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The Checks - INTERIOR

Interior trim should be in reasonable condition and consistent with age and mileage. It can be fearsomely expensive to repair damaged seat covers, particularly leather, door trims and headlining and minor switchgear or dashboard fittings can be hard to obtain.
 
The driver's seat and seat belt are the best guide to mileage, they get the greatest  wear and tear and you can reckon if both are heavily worn then the car's probably covered 70, 000 miles or more. The same applies to the steering wheel rim and gear shift knob, if both are shiny with dimples worn off the wheel and the markings worn off the gear knob than that implies a high mileage. Well worn keys and door and ignition locks are good indicators of  high mileage.
 
Open all of the doors and carefully and slowly check the entire cabin including all seats and the headlining, most people miss the headlining which is a good indicator of age and usage.
 
Check all 5 - or more - seatbelts are properly fixed and not dangerously frayed, look in good tidy order, operate properly and retract properly, try to pull each one rapidly it should lock straight  away and return when let go.
  
Take out any rubber mats and then check for carpet wear in the driver's footwell, loads of  wear equals high mileage. If possible lift carpets in the cabin and the boot  looking for damp patches, signs of leaks through the floor.

While lifting carpets and peering in the boot look for signs of patch welding. Also, in the boot, check the condition of the spare tyre and ensure that there is still a tool kit and jack, they often disappear after a couple of owners. 

In the cabin ensure all of the instruments work correctly, all switches and dials operate as they  should. Check that all lights and indicators work correctly.

Ensure expensive electronics like power windows, mirrors and sun-roof, central locking and remote locking all work, they can be costly to get fixed. 

 

Abstracted from the book “Buying a Used Car” © G Benge 1997-2007

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