Shopping for a used car means taking a few extra things into consideration. Not only will you have to decide on a budget, make, and model, but you'll also have to choose between the many vehicles available.

To assist you in this process, the team at John L. Smith Used Cars in West Chester, PA has put together this used car buying checklist.

What to Consider


Care & Maintenance

Vehicle is within your budget

Right style and body type

Car's oil is clear amber color when dipstick is removed

Right make and model you are looking for

Within the age range you're considering

Brakes are responsive and free of screeching

Right size for your family

Interior is in good shape

Oil is at the correct level

Has the capabilities you need

Upholstery is clean and free of holes

Handles well on turns and at high speeds

Vehicle is available at your local dealer

Exterior paint is free of chips, rust and scratches

Does not shake or vibrate when transitioning gears

Steps to Purchasing a Pre-Owned Vehicle

  1. Make a List. Before visiting your nearest used car dealership, conduct some research online on a vehicle that meets your preferred criteria. This will help streamline the buying process by cancelling out the models that fall outside your needs.
  2. Schedule a Test Drive. Test drives are the holy grail of the pre-owned vehicle purchasing process. They let you know if what you saw on the history report translates to actual life. For that reason, it's worth it to spend the proper period of time and energy on this stage, as the benefits are significant.
    1. Pay attention to any strange sounds coming from under the hood, which can indicate the vehicle is in need of mechanical repairs
    2. Test the brakes by making sure they feel firm, even when coming to an abrupt stop from a high speed.
    3. Hit the gas and make sure that the car has no problems getting up to high speeds with ease
    4.  Test the heating and air conditioning to ensure they work well
  3. Apply for Financing. There's a lot of paperwork when it comes to buying a used vehicle. However, when you submit an online application and get pre-approved for financing on our website, you'll save yourself loads of paperwork down the line! Not sure how your credit is? We pride ourselves on offering 15 minute credit approvals for our surrounding residents.

Used Car Buying Guide: Visiting the Dealership

When you set out on your car buying journey, it may seem like you're a long way off from signing the final paperwork. However, if you're prepared, it shouldn't take long at all. By following all the steps laid out in this simple used car buying checklist, you could be driving home in your new car sooner than you think. If you'd like more assistance, don't hesitate to call John L. Smith Used Cars, your local car dealership serving West Chester, Malvern, Downingtown and Coatesville. We'll be more than happy to help.

Make an Inquiry


John L. Smith Used Cars

550 Hannum Ave
Directions West Chester, PA 19380

  • Sales: (610) 436-4909
  • Service: (610) 918-1600


  • Monday 8:00am - 6:00pm
  • Tuesday 8:00am - 6:00pm
  • Wednesday 8:00am - 6:00pm
  • Thursday 8:00am - 6:00pm
  • Friday 8:00am - 6:00pm
  • Saturday 10:00am - 2:00pm
  • Sunday Closed