What to Look for When Buying at Used Car Dealerships

What to Look for When Buying at Used Car Dealerships

Used car Dealerships Kelowna

Buying a used or pre-owned car can be very exciting.  The vast plethora of choices, available information, and used car dealerships available, can be overwhelming.  If you focus in and do your research, the process can go a lot smoother.  Although the things you should look for, and look at, vary significantly based on what vehicle you are looking at, we have a few general guidelines here, which, if used with common sense, should help you avoid any major trouble.


What to Look for in Used Car Dealerships

When choosing a dealership to shop at, there are a few things you should consider.   Doing so will ensure you are dealing with a Dealership with honesty, integrity, and one that will work with you, to ensure the smoothest possible experience.

Dealership Policies:

An important thing to look at is the car dealership’s policies.  Does the dealership have a return policy, do they have any guarantees, or any other perks that may make the purchase problem free?  For example:  At Harmony Honda in Kelowna, we have no documentation fees or hidden charges, a 30 day / 2500 km exchange policy, a trade-in guarantee, low-pressure environment, etc. etc.

Dealership Reputation:

Another important thing to look at is the Dealership’s reputation.  What are others saying about it?  We recommend looking at unbiased review websites such as Google reviews and Facebook reviews.  We don’t recommend considering any used car dealerships below a 4-star rating.


Used Car Dealerships

What to look for in a pre-owned vehicle

When you have picked a used car dealership and are ready to look at vehicles, we recommend a few steps to ensure you know everything you can and don’t get any costly surprises.


Do research on the vehicle you are looking for.  If you don’t know exactly what you want, research the vehicles in the class you are looking for.  For example, let’s say you want a family sedan.  Decide what’s important to you (say, reliability, safety, and space), research and compare the vehicles in that class to see which meet those criteria the best.  There are many sources of information available on the internet which can help you find the best vehicle to fit your needs.



Ensure the vehicle has been inspected, and check those inspection sheets, what work does the vehicle need? Did the vehicle pass a safety inspection?



What is the history of the vehicle?  There are numerous services that you can use to tell a vehicle’s history, such as CarProof or CarFax.  We recommend finding a dealership where the history report is included in the purchase.  Why spend extra money on a service that should be provided.

Has the vehicle been in an accident?  If it has, has enough time passed or enough kilometers been driven since repair, to know that no problems will occur as a result?  Is the post-accident vehicle priced low enough to justify having to pay for potential problems?  Where is this vehicle from?  For example, cars in Kelowna, British Columbia will have been exposed to different conditions than other cars in Western Canada or even across Canada.  Factors include length of seasons, whether salt is used on roads, etc.

Service History:  Another important thing to look at is service history.  Has the vehicle shown any consistent problems?  Has the vehicle been maintained properly?  Also make sure that all servicing is up to date(the fluids, timing belt, etc.)


Physical Inspection and Test Drive:

Finally, when physically looking at the vehicle and taking it for a test drive, take a look at the entire vehicle, look for broken parts, paint damage, and physical damage.  Has the vehicle been properly detailed?  Often dirt can hide physical damage.  What’s most important is mechanical damage over esthetics, paint can be buffed, scratches can be treated, but serious mechanical problems can be much more work.  Also, pull or push all the buttons, levers, etc.  make sure that everything works(sometimes small things like a broken switch can pass unnoticed during the inspection).

When test driving the vehicle, listen for odd noises, feel for pulling to either side when braking or accelerating(some front wheel drives will have torque steer, which is the pulling to one side during heavy acceleration, this is normal).  Take FWD and AWD cars to a cul-de-sac or empty parking lot, roll the windows down, make tight slow turns and listen for any clicking and whining. Do this one way, then switch directions and do it the other way.  Failing CV joints can make a variety of noises including click and whining.  Finally, feel out the vehicle generally.  Anything that feels strange or bizarre while driving should be addressed to ensure there aren’t any problems that were overlooked.



Buying a used car shouldn’t be a painful or stressful experience, and used car dealerships shouldn’t take advantage of you.  We at Harmony Honda hope to make your experience as pleasant, transparent, and smooth as possible. We take the stress out of buying a used vehicle with our Guarantee for used vehicles.  You can find our used vehicles here.  Happy Shopping!