A Used Car: 8 Signs of Dark Past

When buying a car with a history, it is crucial to make sure that its past was not dramatic and even tragic. This checklist will be helpful for those who want to get the best for the money when buying a used car in Indianapolis


The doorways can tell about serious accidents with side impacts when the correct body geometry is violated and cannot be restored. The thickness gauge will indicate whether the doors were painted. Paintwork 200 microns thick is cosmetic painting work, and if the paint layer is more than 350 microns, then the car was involved in serious road troubles. Colored marks on the door rubber bands will indicate that the body was once repaired, as some car painters do not remove the seal before painting.


There are markings with the date of issue of the part on the windshield, rear, and side windows. A discrepancy between the time the car left the assembly line and, for example, the time the driver’s door glass was made, will indicate its replacement or serious damage. However, the windshield is often damaged by small pebbles during driving, and its replacement should not be very alarming. The size and location of some cracks are not allowed by the rules of operation.
Pay careful attention to the inner parts of the vehicle, like hard to reach corners under the hood, use the lantern. If you find sparkling glass pieces there, the car was in a serious crash.

Power Details 

A thorough inspection of the spars and suspension can reveal painful episodes in the car history. The uneven, wavy surface of the body under the trunk mat can also indicate collisions. A replaced bumper is not a reason to refuse further inspection of the car but an occasion to think about it. 


Checking the airbags for operation is carried out by diagnostic equipment. It happens that the contents under the panels with the inscription “Airbag” may not exist at all. A careful visual inspection of the airbag covers can save a potential buyer from paid diagnostics at the technical center. Damage to the lettering, an uneven panel fit, and any external disharmony of the element can lead to the conclusion about the airbag deployment.

Seat Belts 

The seat belts can tell about critical situations that arose during the car operation. Pretensioners, installed in many cars, are triggered by a squib. In turn, the squib is informed about the collision from the shock sensor or the electronic control unit. Rigid blocking of the belt leads to stretching of the threads of its fabric structure. If there is such a defect, it is possible to ascertain an accident. 

Exhaust Pipe 

The color of the emitted exhaust may be a sign of illness in the engine. The smoke of a bluish hue indicates the combustion of oil in the cylinders, which may be caused by worn piston rings or a more grave breakdown of this system. With a bluish exhaust, suspicions may fall on the valve stem seals and the crankcase ventilation system. White smoke may indicate an admixture of antifreeze in the cylinders, which is caused by worn gaskets or damage to the cylinder block body.

Oil Dipper 

The extracted dipstick should not contain impurities to the natural yellowish-transparent color of the oil. Black fractions may mean that the engine oil has not been changed for a long time. Foamy white inclusions at the end of the dipstick should alert – a sign of coolant getting into the engine. This is a direct path to costly repairs. Such an emulsion can be found on the inner surface of the oil cap, which indicates only rare use of the car.

Engine and Transmission

Freshly cleaned engine in the used vehicle is suspicious. It can hide some leakage of the liquids. Such a car should be checked more carefully. The engine work with noises is a stop signal for the future diagnosis.

A test drive for used cars with an automatic transmission is a must. The refusal of the seller to ride on the proposed car should cause serious suspicion. A short trip at different speeds for 20 minutes will be enough to evaluate the health of the gearbox. Gear changes should be smooth, without “kicks” and the engine roar, waiting for the next gear. The price of repairing an automatic transmission can be as high as half the cost of the car.

Experienced drivers may name a dozen more reasons for suspicion when choosing a used car. To avoid the risks, it is recommended to buy a car from a dealer with a proven reputation, like Indy Auto Man in Indianapolis. The quality of all vehicles in the car lot is backed by a thorough legal and technical inspection, free CARFAX report,  and a 7-day exchange guarantee.