Giving a used car a thorough check can seem daunting, but many faults are easy to spot. We take you through the must-do checks when inspecting a used car.

Exterior checks

Check the bodywork for a consistent paint finish – the paint should be the same shade all over the car, if not it's probably had some damage and a respray
Make sure the gaps between the panels are the same width, if not the car could have been in a traffic accident and repaired
Check the doors and the boot open and close smoothly, and examine the rubber seals for paint as it could point to a respray
Press down carefully on the car at each corner and release, the car should return smoothly to its normal height. If it bounces before settling the suspension could need work
Bubbling paintwork indicates rust and is most common around the wheel arches, bumpers and window frames. Check everywhere, particularly areas regularly in contact with water
Check the tyres and the spare wheel for ware. Inconsistant ware accross the tyre could point towards a tracking problem
If the car is a convertible, make sure the roof moves up and down smoothly and locks fully into place, check the material for tears, and make sure the rear window is free from cracks and discolouration

Under the bonnet

Check for oil, water or other fluid leaks around the engine and other mechanical components, as well as on the ground underneath
Remove the engine oil dipstick, wipe it with a cloth and replace it. Remove it again and check the oil is on or around the 'max' level; the oil should be golden and free from debris – if not, the oil will need changing
Check the top of the engine (you may need to unclip the plastic engine cover first) and underneath the engine oil cap for a white, mayonnaise-like substance which could indicate a damaged engine head gasket and often-irreparable engine damage
Check the fluid levels for the engine coolant (large, often round tank with a screw cap filled with pink fluid) and brake fluid (small bottle, often attached at the rear of the engine bay) are at the correct indicated level when the engine is cool
Check the battery terminals and connectors on top of the battery are rust-free and in good condition

Interior checks

The kilometers on the odometer inside the speedometer should be consistent with the advert and car's documents
Check wear on the seats and steering wheel are consistent with the car's kilometers – high kilometer cars will often show wear on the side bolsters and the steering wheel may have a shiny appearance
Make sure everything works, including the air conditioning, all electric windows, sunroof, adjustable seats and even the fuel-filler and bonnet release
Look for damage to the steering column and ignition – damage could indicate the car has been stolen at some point
Check the seatbelts, the passenger side of the dashboard and the steering wheel cover – frayed seatbelts could indicate they've been activated in a crash and damage to the dashboard and steering wheel could mean the car's airbags have been activated in a crash

DISCLAIMER: This information is for advice and guidance purposes only. does not guarentee results.