Steps to Finding Your Next Car

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By: Khurrum Shakir
February 12, 2015

Steps to Finding Your Next Car

Many consumers get caught up with how nice and shinny a car looks on the outside and how clean it is on the inside.  However, 8 out of 10 consumers forget to inspect the car from underneath the hood, around the door jams, trunk lids, or inspect the undercarriage by using a hydraulic lift, where you may find major problems that can sometimes end up costing more than the actual car.

Additionally, depending on a shoppers schedule the car buying process can take anywhere from 1 to 3 months before they drive away with a new car.  For most consumers, buying a car will be the second largest purchase decision in their lifetime.  That being said, take your time and the appropriate steps to make sure it’s an enjoyable and fun experience.  Try the basic steps outlined below to help enhance your car buying experience.

Step1 - Selection:

After defining your needs (i.e. what type of vehicle and who is it for) search through all the listings on, refine your search by using the multiple options available at your fingertips with Carsquare’s Advanced Search feature, and finally select a price point for your purchase.

Step2 - Scheduling Test-drives:

Now that you’ve narrowed your search, depending on how many vehicles you’re interested in (don’t forget to Park them in your Garage on, start scheduling 2 to 3 test-drives a week and be sure to print a CARFAX report for each vehicle test-drive.  For your convenience, every auto listing on has a CARFAX report that can be purchased, if not already available for FREE.  Always schedule your appointments during the daylight hours and try not to fall in love with the first car you drive.  As you know from searching through there are millions of vehicles being offered, so be patient and don’t show your poker face too early.  This will allow you to be more focused and will enable you to pick the right car for you and/or your family while preventing a savvy salesperson from playing off of your emotions.

Step3 - The Walk Around:

As you walk around the vehicle look for scratches, dents, paintwork, and other imperfections that will help you negotiate a better price and don’t be shy about pointing them out to the salesperson.  Open the hood, trunk lid, doors and check to see if any of the screws or bolts have been moved or re-positioned in the fenders and panels.  When closing the doors, hood and trunk lids make sure they close properly and check for uneven gaps/spacing between the sides. 

Next, look for paint lines.  Paint should flow seamlessly from one section to the other so a car that hasn’t had any paintwork will not have paint lines. 

Check the tire treads by carrying out the honest Abe Lincoln penny test.  Insert the head of a penny into the tire treads and if good old Abe’s head is above the treads, you’ll need tires very soon.  We all know Abe will not lie. 

For the more skilled buyer, request to have the vehicle raised on a lift to view the undercarriage while under the dealership’s supervision and don’t forget to request that the vehicle remain running.  A running vehicle will make it easy to find exhaust leaks.  While under the vehicle, check for oil leaks, rust and corrosion.  Look through the wheels or have the dealership remove the wheels to inspect the brakes.  If you’re like most consumers and don’t know how to inspect the undercarriage request that you be permitted to drive the vehicle to your trusted mechanic for a more thorough inspection.

Step4 - What to Look for during your test-drive:

When on the test drive, turn the radio down and listen for any abnormal noises like rattling noises, break squeals, suspension noises and steering noises when turning the wheels.  If you’re test-driving an automatic drivetrain pay close attention to the transmission shifts.  At normal driving conditions, the transmission should shift smoothly without high revs. 

Always remember to drive through different types of roads, straight, bumpy, curvy, and hilly roads.  You certainly don’t have to be an expert to test the vehicle wheel alignment.  While driving on a fairly straight road, keeping your hands close, slowly slide them off the steering wheel and make note of how long the vehicle remains on a straight path.  Taking the road into consideration if the vehicle stays on a straight line for 5 to 10 seconds it’s a good indication that the wheel alignment is in good condition.  Also look for any vibration in the steering wheel and in your seat.  Vibration in the steering wheel will point to front wheel balancing and vibration in the seat will point to rear wheel balancing.

Finally, before you leave from each test-drive make a list of all the pros and cons, noting… how informed and courteous was the salesperson, were you offered an acceptable out the door price/final all in price, were you permitted to inspect the vehicle thoroughly, was the vehicle in acceptable condition, etc.  Remember, for most people buying a car will be the second largest purchase of their lifetime, your car is your baby, so ask yourself… would you bring your car to this dealership for service? 

Searching with

According to Google and J.D. Power most consumers will search through 18 different websites when searching for a used car to purchase… now that’s time consuming.  Save yourself time and stop surfing through multiple sites by searching and comparing millions of vehicle listings side-by-side from several of the top auto sites on  At you can find more than just listings; you can also find vehicle reviews, CARFAX reports, manufacturer recall information, video test drives, and ask the opinion of a trusted confidant via social platform that is integrated with Facebook, LinkedIn, Gmail, Microsoft live and soon Twitter. 

Happy Searching and Congratulations!

The Team