Pre-Owned Car Checklist: Tips for Buying Used

Shopping around for the pre-owned vehicle that’s just right for you can feel like a huge undertaking, rife with worries about mileage, age, service history, and more. But when you have a dedicated dealership team like Hendrick Buick GMC Cary on your side, buying pre-owned doesn’t have to be stressful or scary! We make it easy to buy with confidence and find the pre-owned car, truck, or SUV that’s the right fit for your travels from Cary to Raleigh. Check out our pre-owned car checklist to start your search off on the right foot, before taking some time to browse our ever-expanding used vehicle inventory.

Research Your Options

First thing’s first: do you know what type of vehicle you’re looking for? A pre-owned truck checklist will probably look a little different than a pre-owned SUV checklist, so the first thing you should do is narrow down whether you want a sedan, truck, or SUV. Then, do some research to start exploring the makes and models that are a good fit for you. In addition to thinking about the features and specs you desire in a vehicle, remember to also look into long-term factors like repair costs and common defects.

Create a Thoughtful Budget

If you’ll be financing your vehicle with a loan, your pre-owned car checklist should include taking some time to lay out a thoughtful budget. Your budget shouldn’t just encompass the total amount you can afford to borrow for your loan, but also long-term costs like repairs and maintenance, auto insurance, and registration fees, all three of which will apply whether you finance the vehicle or buy it with cash.

Search Around for Offers and Incentives

Many dealerships in the Charlotte area––including Hendrick Buick GMC Cary––have ongoing pre-owned vehicle specials available that you won’t want to pass up. These specials can take your used vehicle savings even further, so be sure to look around for them on dealer websites while browsing their used vehicle inventories.

Ask for a Vehicle History Report

One of the perks of buying a pre-owned car from a certified dealership is that you’ll automatically be provided with a complete service history and accident report. If you’re considering a private sale, though, you should absolutely ask for the Vehicle History Report before making an offer. If the seller cannot provide the report, you can also use the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to look the vehicle up on websites like CARFAX or Autocheck. If the seller refuses to provide this information before the sale, it should be considered a red flag and you may want to walk away.

Go for a Test Drive

Even if you’re satisfied with the Vehicle History Report, you should never purchase a used vehicle without test driving it first. You might discover an issue that wasn’t disclosed to you, which is important to bring up before closing the sale. While test driving, be alert to things like steering and alignment, brake performance, windshield wiper and power window functionality, and the functionality of headlights, turn signals, taillights, and brake lights. Test the radio as well, but also drive around with the radio off so you can hear if there are any odd sounds happening.


Don’t underestimate your negotiating power. Especially if you discover an issue that you know you’ll need to pay to fix later on, you should usually be able to take the seller down a bit from their original asking price.

Check Out Financing Solutions

What many shoppers don’t realize when creating their pre-owned SUV checklist or pre-owned truck checklist is that there are finance solutions available for pre-owned cars. If you would be more comfortable making monthly payments for a vehicle instead of buying it outright, there are plenty of viable payment plans out there for you.

Find the Perfect Pre-Owned Car, Truck, or SUV at Hendrick Buick GMC Cary

Whether you’re looking for a high-quality pre-owned Buick, GMC, or another make or model, you can find the right fit at our dealership in Cary, NC! Our expert service techs inspect and recondition every used vehicle on our lot, so you can move forward with total confidence in the quality, safety, and performance of your vehicle. With any questions, please contact us at your convenience. We’re always here to help!

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