Buying a used car can save you a lot of money. Not only is the initial price lower than an equivalent new car, but you also miss out on that initial depreciation hit most new cars take. However, you must make sure you're buying a quality used car, or you could end up with problems down the road. 

But buying a quality used car goes beyond just its mechanical condition — it also comprises the price you pay, the warranty backing it up, and its history. 

Below, we highlight all the key factors to look for when shopping for a quality used car. 

Priced Fairly Without Haggling

The first sign of a quality used car option is pricing. Dealerships are free to set their used-car prices as they see fit, and many base their prices on what they bought the car for, any reconditioning required, and their preferred profit margins. 

This pricing format ignores the vehicle's actual market value, which can leave you paying significantly more than it's worth if you're not careful. Use sites like Kelley Blue Book (KBB) or Canadian Black Book (CBB) to find the actual market value for the vehicle you're considering so you don't accidentally overpay. 

If you find a used car dealership is overcharging for your preferred vehicle, you can ask for a reduction to meet the value. Some dealerships will comply with your request and lower the price. However, others may force you to haggle by coming back with a slightly lower -- but still too high -- price. 

At Clutch, you can avoid all this hassle. All our quality cars are priced fairly and come with no haggling required. Simply find the used vehicle you like, complete the online purchase, and we'll deliver it to you. 

Inspected and Warranted

Another sign of a quality used car is the dealership puts it through a rigorous inspection process and repairs or reconditions what's needed. If the vehicle is beyond repair or doesn't make financial sense to repair, the company doesn't offer it for sale. 

High-quality vehicles will also include a warranty to cover any unforeseen issues that could arise shortly after you buy the vehicle. This shows the used car dealer's confidence in the vehicles it sells. At the very least, a quality used car should include a 30-day warranty. 

At Clutch, we have a great selection of pre-owned vehicles from major automakers, including Chevrolet, Ford, Toyota, BMW, Dodge, Kia, Hyundai, Honda, Nissan, Volkswagen, and more. Plus, all these quality used cars have been through a 210-point inspection and reconditioning process to ensure they're ready for the road. 

We also include a 90-day or 6,000-km warranty to cover any unforeseen issues down the road. This warranty covers a wide range of components, including:

  • Engine
  • Transmission
  • Drive axles
  • Climate control
  • Steering
  • Brakes
  • Fuel system
  • Sensors and wiring
  • Suspension
  • Electrical components

Any repairs done under this warranty by a licensed mechanic are fully covered. We also cover roadside assistance, any rental expenses, and even hotel expenses if a breakdown interrupts your trip.

Up-to-Date Maintenance Records

Maintenance is one of the key ingredients to a long-lasting vehicle, so a quality used car should be up to date on all its maintenance. This includes things as simple as oil changes and tire rotations to more complex maintenance procedures like timing belts and spark plugs. 

A vehicle with incomplete maintenance is a potential sign of neglect and could mean other issues are lingering beneath the surface

At Clutch, our vehicle inspection process includes a full maintenance sweep, ensuring the vehicle's recommended maintenance is up to date, so you can drive away in your next vehicle knowing there's no overdue maintenance. 

Smooth, Trouble-Free Test Drive

The test drive is a key part of finding a quality used car, as this is where you can get behind the wheel and feel how the vehicle drives. Take the vehicle on some less-than-ideal roads to get a feel for the suspension system and listen for any distinct squeaking or rattling. 

You should also take the vehicle on the highway and get it up to normal highway speeds. This allows you to feel for any unusual vibrations or shimmies at high speeds. 

As part of the test drive, it's a great idea to play with all the vehicle's features. Press every button and turn every known to ensure everything is in working order. People often trade in cars because a certain feature stops working, and the dealership may not have caught this. If you notice it before the sale, the dealership may be willing to repair the issue as part of the sale. 

Never let the dealership dictate your test drive route, as they could purposely avoid certain driving conditions to keep issues hidden. Take your own route and drive the vehicle as long as you need to determine if it's the right car for you. 

At Clutch, we offer a 10-day test-own process that allows you to keep and test drive our pre-owned vehicles for 10 full days or 750 km. If you find the vehicle doesn't suit you or there is an issue you can't live with, we'll take the vehicle back and issue a full refund. Alternatively, you can also exchange the vehicle for another quality used car from Clutch.

Checks Out Visually 

When looking at a used car, don't be shy about inspecting everything you're able to see. A few key things to look out for that indicate a quality used car include: 

  • Tires with plenty of tread on them
  • No leaks coming from under the vehicle
  • The oil on the dipstick is clean and has no gritty debris in it
  • The transmission fluid on the dipstick is a bright red, clean, and doesn't smell burned
  • All doors and body panels appear to align and are flush with one another

In an ideal scenario, you can bring your potential next vehicle to a third-party mechanic for an inspection, but not every dealership will allow this. But the above areas are good indicators of a quality used vehicle. 

With Clutch's 10-day test-own period, you're free to take the vehicle to any mechanic you like for additional inspections. If they find any problems, you're covered by our six-month or 6,000-km warranty. 

Clean Carfax Report

The final puzzle piece in finding a quality used car is a clear Carfax report. Minor fender benders happen and seeing those on a Carfax report shouldn't impact your buying decision. However, high-dollar accidents, salvage vehicles, flooded vehicles, and other large issues should be a red flag. 

You also want to check the mileage is accurate according to the Carfax report. 

If the dealership offers the Carfax report upfront, this is a good sign the dealer is comfortable with the used cars it's selling. If you have to chase down the report or pull one yourself, there may be some hidden issues on it. 

At Clutch, all our quality used vehicles come with a Carfax report. Plus, you can rest assured we never sell vehicles with high-dollar repairs performed on them. In fact, most of our pre-owned vehicles are 100% accident-free.


Get Your High-Quality Used Car at Clutch

Instead of running all around trying to find a quality pre-owned vehicle, come straight to Clutch. We have a great selection of quality used vehicles that have been through a 210-point inspection, include a 90-day or 6,000-km warranty, and have a 10-day risk-free test-own period. 

Plus, we're Canada's first 100% online pre-owned vehicle retailer. So, you can shop for your next vehicle from home without ever setting foot in a dealership. Once you find the vehicle you love, we can help you secure a car loan, even if you have bad credit, and deliver the vehicle to you. 

It's about as simple and stress-free as pre-owned car shopping can be.