We have all purchased a vehicle that we regretted we had purchased in the first place when it ends up breaking down more than its running but, did we take the correct measures to ensure we were buying a quality secondhand vehicle? Whether buying from an owner directly or from a dealership, there are many warning signs that should tell you whether that vehicle you’re interested in is going to be what you expected.

Here are a few things to look out for:

Misaligned body panels are some of the most common imperfections spotted during a secondhand vehicle inspection and although often passed off as a minor surface irregularity, could often be more sinister than expected, such as a major accident. It is important to check that all gaps between body parts on the vehicle are properly aligned.

Starting up the engine from “cold” is something that buyers should always insist on doing because a running engine cannot reveal worn components and fuel delivery issues the way a cold startup can. If the car has been driven to you for viewing, give it some time, take a look at the exterior before firing up the old engine.

A shaky suspension is a sure sign that there will be hefty investment in future repairs. If you feel any rattling on the steering system or under the seats when the car is idling or while driving, be sure that you are ready for the investment that will come along with the vehicle a short while down the road as it could be anything from worn shocks to a damaged steering linkage.

A modified car may look “cool” but unless it has the backing paperwork to ensure that it’s been done by a professional, it could end up being a greater risk than anything else. Solid history on the work done on the vehicle is always first prize to ensure only accredited car mechanics have worked on the vehicle.

Shoddy or missing paperwork is a sure sign that the seller may be taking you for a ride. When it comes to paperwork for the vehicle, don’t ever accept discounts on account of paperwork being lost in the fire or having been stolen. The onus is on the seller to get a copy of the vehicles papers from the Traffic Department before the sale of the vehicle is completed.

Checking these things are important and there are many other important things to keep in mind as well but, the important thing is that you as the buyer feel comfortable purchasing the vehicle and are fully aware of the vehicles history as well as potential work that may need to be done on the vehicle. At the end of the day, honesty is the key factor between the seller and the buyer.