Looking to a Buy a Car? Use This Checklist

by Rosen & Ohr, P.A. | Car Accident Blog, Personal Injury

Most of us depend on having a safe, reliable vehicle to get where we want to go. Whether you use your car for transportation to and from work or school, or simply as a means of running errands, it is important to know that your vehicle is not only mechanically sound but offers the protection you need in case of a crash or collision.

Car accidents and injuries are unfortunately common in Florida, but having a car that is built solidly and runs properly could help decrease your risks. Whether you are in the market for a new or used vehicle, a car is a major investment and one that you will want to rely on for a number of years. Before you make your purchase, consult our used car checklist and car buying safety tips to ensure you are getting a safe, reliable vehicle for your money.

Used Car Safety Checklist

Buying a used car is often a gamble, whether you are buying from a car dealership or from a private owner. Although a quality used car can offer tremendous value for car buyers, it is important to give any car you are considering a thorough inspection to avoid being stuck with a vehicle that does not run properly or requires expensive automotive repairs.

A Consumer Reports car buying guide suggests doing a thorough check of the following three areas:

  1. The Vehicle’s Exterior
  • Check the overall body condition for scratches, dents, and signs of rust.
  • Inspect the front and rear windshields and windows of the car for signs of cracks or chipping.
  • Check the suspension to ensure the car is standing level.
  • Press down strongly on each corner of the vehicle. If the car bounces back more than once, the shock absorbers could need replacing.
  • Check the tires, and look for worn or uneven tread or signs of bulging.
  1. The Vehicle’s Interior
  • Be alert to odors such as mold or mildew, which could indicate leaks or water damage.
  • Look for worn upholstery or tears, and try out all the seats to make sure they can be adjusted properly.
  • Turn the ignition switch on, without starting the vehicle. All warning lights should go on for a few seconds, then shut off.
  • Check turn signals and indicators, and have someone stand outside the vehicle to ensure the brake lights work.
  • Check that the stereo system works.
  • If there is a sunroof, make sure it opens and closes properly.
  • Open the trunk, and be aware of any smells or odors, which often prove difficult to remove.
  1. The Vehicle’s Mechanical Components
  • Before you start the vehicle, check the hoses and belts for signs of wear or fraying.
  • Check all fluid levels. Engine oil should be brown with no grit, and droplets of water or foam could indicate problems with the engine block.
  • Check the radiator. The coolant should be greenish in color, with no staining on the outside of the reservoir.
  • Check the battery for age and signs of corrosion.
  • Start the vehicle, listening for any noises the engine makes.
  • With the engine running, check the transmission fluid, which should be pinkish in color, without any burnt odors.

In addition to the above, look underneath the vehicle for signs of fluid leaks and check the tailpipe for black or greasy residue, which could mean the car is burning oil. Before making your purchase, do your homework and check out reviews and ratings for the particular vehicle you are considering by using Consumer Reports New and Used Car Rating Guide. This guide is a free tool that will give you the inside scoop on any automotive issues or safety concerns other drivers have experienced.

The Dangers of Buying a New Car

Although some buyers think they can avoid automotive and safety risks by buying a new car, this is not always the case. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), automobile recalls due to safety concerns have reached record numbers. The number of new car recalls that have occurred since 2014 has been the highest in more than three decades, with more than 800 different recalls affecting over 63 million vehicles.

Recalls involve safety and performance issues that could put drivers at risk, and they have recently included the following:

  • Defects in steering components, which may cause drivers to lose control of the vehicle
  • Defects in fuel systems, which create a risk of fire or explosions
  • Defects with acceleration, causing drivers to lose control over the vehicle
  • Defects with heels or tires, resulting in blowouts
  • Defects in required safety systems, such as seat belt, seat backs, and airbags

One of the largest recalls in history concerned Takata airbags. These were recalled due to safety defects that caused the airbags to deploy and explode suddenly, which could result in serious and even life-threatening injuries. According to NHTSA reports on the Takata recall, the airbags were installed in tens of millions of cars throughout the U.S. and will likely to continue to impact new car buyers over the next few years.

To find out if your car is affected by the Takata recall or any other type of safety-related defect, you can use the NHTSA car recall search tool, which allows you to search by your vehicle’s make and model, or by vehicle identification number (VIN).

What to Do If You Are Injured in an Accident in a Used Car

If you or someone you care about is injured in a car accident due to an automotive or safety defect, contact Rosen & Ohr, P.A., today. Our experienced Florida car accident attorneys provide the aggressive legal representation you need, whether you have been injured due to safety issues that are common in used cars or defects in a newer model. We can advise you on how to hold responsible parties accountable for the damages you have suffered so that you can pursue the compensation you need to recover.

We serve Hollywood, Ft. Lauderdale, and the surrounding areas. Call or contact us online today to schedule a free consultation.


Rosen & Ohr, P.A. is a personal injury law firm representing injured clients in Fort LauderdaleHollywood, and throughout South Florida.