Interior Used Car Inspection Tips

Couple looking inside car

In this section, you will find detailed used car inspection tips to help you evaluate the interior quality and condition of a pre-owned car.  Please note — if you are not qualified to perform inspections, use this information as a resource to guide you through an informal, personal inspection first. 

Then, we strongly recommend hiring a certified mechanic to perform an official used car inspection prior to purchase.  

Carpets and Mats

Check the carpets and mats for rips, burns, tears and stains.  If they're dirty, a good detailing might be all that's needed.  If the carpets are ripped or burned, they can be costly to repair or replace.


Make sure the driver's seat is comfortable, with plenty of legroom and headroom, and adjust the headrest to a position that feels right for you.  Be sure you can see clearly above the dash and out the windshield with nothing obstructing your view.  Make sure the passenger seat and back seats are comfortable, with plenty of legroom and headroom too.  Comfort is an extremely important factor when buying a car, so take your time when evaluating the car's interior cabin.

Controls and Equipment

Examine the controls, mirrors, stereo, navigation system, air conditioning, heating, steering wheel adjustments, rear defoggers and wiper/washer system to ensure they're functioning properly.  Look for missing or broken controls.


Inspect the fabric on the interior roof for rips, tears, sagging or stains.  Replacing a headliner is expensive and challenging, so be sure it's in good condition.


Turn on the ignition and examine the instrumental panel, including the gas gauge, the speedometer, the tachometer and warning lights.  Warning lights that remain on after a vehicle is started can indicate a mechanical problem.

If oil pressure is low or an engine component isn't functioning properly, warning lights will let you know, especially on newer model used cars.


Check to see if the interior lights are working properly, including the overhead light (when the doors are open and shut), the dimmer switch, the dashboard lights, and the visor vanity lights. 


Inspect the brake, gas and clutch pedal, if applicable, for visible signs of wear and tear.  Worn, smooth rubber, especially on the brake pedal, could be an indication of excessive stop-and-go driving.

Seats and Seatbelts

Adjust the seats forward and backward to ensure they slide easily ad smoothly.  Make sure they tilt forward and back and, if present, remove seat covers to examine the upholstery. Check for burns, tears, stains and excessive wear. And don't forget to check the seatbelts to ensure they fit and work properly also.


Examine the trunk closely for signs of mold and mildew, or rust in the wheel wells, which could all be a sign of prior water damage.  Make sure the spare tire is present and in good condition.  Lift the carpet and inspect the floor of the trunk for evidence of body repairs or rust.

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