Buying a Modified Used Car Checklist – The Ultimate 68 Point list!

The boxes below are all tick-able, so you can see your progress in green, or alternatively you can print out the page to take with you when viewing a car.


Check the seller is the registered keeper on the V5C

Ensure the V5C has a watermark on it

Check the VIN (vehicle identification number) on the V5C matches that on the car

Check the colour on the V5C matches the car

Check the car’s MOT certificate

Check for any advisories on the latest MOT

Check previous MOT’s to ensure the mileage adds up and increases year on year

Check any previous advisories on old MOT certificates and ensure fixes have been implemented

Check the service book for the service history – Are there any large gaps?

Bodywork & Exterior

Check wheels for evidence of kerbing

Check that tires are correctly inflated – slightly deflated tyres could be a sign of a slow puncture

Listen closely to each tyre for any signs of air escaping

Check tyre sidewall to ensure no bulging

Check tyre tread. 1.6mm is the legal limit but it should be well above this

Check for uneven wear across the tyre face. This could mean uneven alignment

If the wheels are aftermarket check the manufacturer to ensure they are of a good quality

Check the windscreen for any chips or cracks that would need repairing

Check for any suspicious panels that look resprayed

Ensure the paint is a consistent quality all around the car and that there is no fading

 Check the gaps between every panel are all the same

Check wheel wells and under car for any signs of welding or rust

Look for any signs of accident damage, check panel colour and form

Turn all lights on individually including indicators and ensure all are working


If the car is reasonably new the interior should reflect that and be almost spotless

Check seat bolsters for wear

Check all trim pieces are securely fitted

Check all equipment is working such as heated seats, window wipers etc.

Check all gauges are working

Turn the air conditioning on and ensure there is no squeaking sound

Check all fan speeds and settings work

Check steering wheel for wear or replacement

Check to see if any replaced panels have been installed correctly

See if the spare tyre and manufacturer tools are still in the car

Check for any signs of water damage in the glovebox, along the floor and under seats


Check the belts to see if they look worn

Check all hoses to ensure none are loose and none feel brittle

Ask how old the battery is ensuring it is no older than 4 years

Check engine bay for sign of leaks

Check the floor under car for signs of leaking

Check the oil level is at correct level

Check that the oil on dipstick is not discoloured (it should be clear)

Remove the oil cap and check for a white or brown sludge. You shouldn’t see any

 If mods such as a turbo have been added, check for that the corresponding parts have been installed such as intercooler

 Check all other fluids such as brake fluid and coolant to ensure they are all at the correct level

Turn the ignition on ensuring all warning lights come on

Start the car and check all warning lights go out

Ask seller to start car with bonnet up. Listen for unusual noises or screeching

Check the car idles consistently after a couple;e of minutes

Gearbox & Clutch

 Check the biting point of the clutch at a stand still. It should be at around middle of the pedal travel

If the clutch is long, meaning the bite point is at the floor it could mean a failing clutch


With engine on walk to back of the car – Check for any consistent coloured smoke

Blue smoke indicates oil leaking into the cylinders

White smoke can point to head gasket failure

Black smoke indicates too much fuel being burned


Push firmly on each corner of the car a few times and release. It should return to stationary with a couple of bounces and shouldn’t squeak

Check the vehicle is sitting level

When driving pay attention for rough ride

 When driving listen for any squeaks

Make sure vehicle doesn’t pull to one side when driving

Test Drive

Find a safe spot and turn full lock both directions to ensure nothing rubs

Brake firmly in a straight line, make sure the brake pedal feels firm and responsive

Check the car doesn’t pull to one direction when braking

Drive over bumps and listen out for any noises from the suspension

Let go of the steering wheel briefly when safe to do so and ensure it is centred and remains driving straight

Listen for any interior rattling

Check all gears engage smoothly

If the car is automatic check that the car kicks down well when you accelerate hard

If driving a manual, drive at around 30MPH in top gear and floor the throttle. Ensure the engine revs don’t increase quickly. This could mean the clutch is slipping

If you are looking to buy a modified used car, but are unsure about some of the mechanical aspects. Then head over to our ultimate guide to car modifications to learn about which modifications you should and shouldn’t be looking for.


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