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Learn how to perform a vehicle inspection before buying a used car

It’s hard to turn on the TV without seeing a Carfax commercial. You know how it goes – a potential car buyer keeps asking the sales guy for a Carfax report, and the sales guy keep avoiding the question by assuming the customer is asking for something else.

Gearheads and PowerBlock fans usually know what to look for when looking for a used vehicle, whether it’s for a future project or for someone’s daily driver, and many times, the first reference point is a Carfax report, or something similar.

In a story by the Detroit Free Press, using a vehicle’s history report may not be the your best bet when guying a car that was wrecked and/or rebuilt.

One example the story gives is of a firefighter who bought a used 2003 Ford Mustang Cobra in 2010. The firefighter claimed that the dealer knew the car had suffered severe damage to the front end, but he had only discovered it when doing his own work on the car, the story said. The trial resulted in a hung jury, even though the firefighter testified that the dealership used a clean Carfax report to convince him to buy the vehicle.

Most Gearheads and PowerBlock fans know they should perform a good, thorough inspection on a used vehicle, from the exterior to the drivetrain. If you don’t know how to do it yourself, check out these tips from PowerBlock:

In an episode of Trucks!, also covered in PowerBlock Magazine, we showed you what to look for when buying a used truck.


  • Pop the hood and look at the fender bolts. Scarred up bolts and cracked/scratched paint are signs that the fenders have been off the car. Also take a look at the hood hinges.

  • If everything looks perfectly clean under the hood, with no grease or dirt, there may be come issues that the dealer is trying to “gloss” over.

  • On initial startup, you want to look for smoke out of the tailpipe. A little bit of water is ok because it’s from condensation. The exhaust gas may form visible clouds, but any blue smoke or white smoke there is likely serious issues inside the engine.


  • When a body panel is replaces, the factory sport-weld dimples are almost always gone.


You can check out more tips and videos from Trucks! hosts Kevin and Ryan by clicking here: www.powerblockmag.com