7 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying A Pre-owned Car

Rahul Jha
Rahul Jha

Updated on: 29th February, 2024 IST

7 Mistakes to Avoid When Buying A Pre-owned Car

In recent years, the Indian landscape has witnessed a significant shift towards acquiring pre-owned cars. With over 4.4 million used cars sold in 2021-22, the used car market in India is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.5% per year till 2026-27. This shift isn't merely a passing trend; it's a testament to the potential cost savings and the options that the pre-owned car market offers.

However, as more and more people undertake the process of buying pre-owned cars, it's crucial to steer clear of pitfalls and mistakes that can turn this exciting experience into a costly misstep. In this blog, we will look into some of the most common mistakes made by buyers in the realm of pre-owned cars. 

We'll also shed light on how to avoid these pitfalls and help equip you with valuable insights to navigate the terrain of pre-owned vehicle purchases successfully. So, let's get started on this journey to make your pre-owned car buying experience as smooth as possible.

Most Common Mistakes That Buyers Make When Purchasing Used Cars

Buying a pre-owned car can be a smart financial move, but it can quickly turn into a nightmare if you make the wrong choices. By avoiding these common mistakes, you can ensure a smoother and more satisfying purchase process. 

Let's look into the most prevalent pitfalls to watch out for:

1. Not Conducting Proper Research

One of the gravest mistakes you can make when buying a pre-owned car is failing to conduct thorough research. Research is the foundation of a successful purchase. 

Here's why it's essential:

  • Research helps you identify the most reliable makes and models, ensuring you choose a car that suits your needs
  • It allows you to compare prices, so you can spot a good deal from a bad one
  • Researching dealerships helps you find reputable ones with a history of honest transactions

Tips on How to Conduct Research:

  • Use online resources, forums, and reviews to gather information on different car models
  • Consult friends and family who may have experience with pre-owned cars

2. Neglecting a Detailed Vehicle Inspection

A comprehensive vehicle inspection is non-negotiable when purchasing a pre-owned car. Neglecting this step can lead to unforeseen issues down the road. Here's what you should inspect:

  • Look for signs of leaks, unusual noises, or excessive smoke from the engine and exhaust
  • Check the brake pads, rotors, and brake fluid for wear and tear
  • Examine the tread depth and condition of the tyres
  • Inspect the shocks and struts for signs of damage in the suspension system
  • Ensure smooth gear shifting during the test drive
  • Take multiple test drives to make sure that all the components are working perfectly
  • If you want to avoid the hassles of going through such an exhausting inspection process, you can buy your next car from CARS24, as all our cars are thoroughly inspected across 140 parameters

3. Overlooking the Vehicle History Report

The vehicle history report is your window into the car's past. Overlooking it can be a costly error. Why is a vehicle history report important:

  • It reveals crucial information like accidents, title status, and mileage accuracy
  • A clean history report increases your confidence in the vehicle's condition.

How to obtain and analyze a vehicle history report:

  • Request the report from the seller or use online services (if available)
  • Brands like CARS24 give you vehicle inspection and service history report for each car, so that you get a car that fits the bill
  • Look for any red flags such as accidents, title issues, or an inconsistent mileage history

Also Read: Used Car Vs Certified Pre-owned

4. Skipping a Test Drive

Skipping the test drive is a mistake that can lead to buyer's remorse. That's why brands like CARS24 offer as many free test drives as you like, at all their yards. But, before you plan your test drive, prepare a checklist of all the things you are looking for in your car. With a proper checklist for a test drive, you’ll be able to make an informed decision and find your perfect match. 

A test drive helps you:

  • Assess the vehicle's condition and performance firsthand
  • Check for comfort, visibility, and driving dynamics
  • Identify any unusual noises, vibrations, or handling issues

5. Buying a Car That's Too Old or Has Too Many Miles

When purchasing a pre-owned car in India, it's crucial to avoid the common mistake of buying a vehicle that's either too old or has accumulated excessive miles. Here's why:

  • Older cars and those with high mileage are more likely to require costly repairs and maintenance, potentially draining your budget
  • These cars may also have outdated safety features and lack the fuel efficiency found in newer models

To avoid this mistake, consider the following:

  • Set a reasonable limit on the car's age and mileage based on your budget and intended usage
  • Research the make and model to determine its typical lifespan and expected maintenance costs

Also Read: How to Buy Good Used Cars: Tips for Used Car Buyers

6. Buying a Car That's Not Right for Your Needs

Selecting a car that doesn't align with your requirements can be a costly misstep. To make a wise choice:

  • Assess your needs, such as seating capacity, fuel efficiency, and cargo space
  • Consider your daily commute and any specific features that enhance your driving experience
  • Research and test drive different models to find one that caters to your unique needs

7. Not Checking the Car's Paperwork

Overlooking crucial paperwork when buying a pre-owned car can result in legal and financial issues. To avoid this mistake:

  • Verify all essential documents, including the Registration Certificate (RC), Insurance papers, Pollution Under Control (PUC) certificate
  • Confirm the car's fitness certificate, especially for commercial vehicles
  • Ensure the seller possesses the car's title, and all details match the documents

Also Read: 10 Benefits of Buying a Used Car

The Bottom Line 

In conclusion, as we navigate the maze of pre-owned car purchases in India, it's evident that the path to a successful transaction requires vigilance and wisdom. We have handcrafted this blog based on expert knowledge and broader industry trends from the CARS24 Mileage Report for 2022-2023.

Remember, with India's car buying budget showing a remarkable 30 per cent increase, research is your best friend, helping you find the right car at the right price. Always inspect the vehicle thoroughly, check its history report, and take it for a test drive. And, of course, ensure all the paperwork is for a trouble-free ownership experience. 

By following these guidelines and being a smart and informed buyer, you can cruise the roads of India in your trusted pre-owned car, knowing you've made a wise investment. Happy driving!


Q. What are the most common mistakes when buying a pre-owned car?

The most common mistakes include not conducting proper research, neglecting a detailed vehicle inspection, overlooking the vehicle history report, and skipping a test drive.

Q. Why is research important before purchasing a pre-owned car?

Research helps you choose a reliable car model, compare prices, and find reputable dealerships, ensuring a successful purchase.

Q. Is it safe to buy a second-hand car?

Yes, it is safe to buy a second-hand car if you follow proper procedures, conduct thorough inspections, and obtain all necessary documents.

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