Thanksgiving Car-B-Q | How to Cook a Meal on a Car Engine

Thanksgiving Car-B-Q - how to cook a meal on a car engine

The annual day of family and food is just a week away! There are many different ways that Americans choose to cook their traditional Thanksgiving turkey. Some prefer the aroma of a slow roast, while others salivate for a deep-fried bird. There is one unique way that you may not have thought of — instead of a BBQ for the festive day, have you ever considered a Car-B-Q?

Believe it or not, cooking a full holiday meal right on your car’s engine is not only doable; it’s delicious! Here are some techniques for filling your tummies without the kitchen cleanup. We’ll also offer up our favorite concoctions for car cooking.

So, wherever you are this Thanksgiving, all you need for a hot meal is your vehicle and a little engine-uity!

Engine Cooking: Safety First

For safety, there are some practices you should adhere to when engine cooking:

First of all, NEVER poorly wrap your food or place it somewhere that may disrupt the engine’s parts.

Secondly, ALWAYS place food on the engine when it is off.

Other tips include:

  • Avoid foods that contain a lot of liquid. Even if your meal is wrapped well with foil, juices could leak out onto your engine, and that’s never good.
  • Place your food in a static location. Don’t pull wires or mess with any of the engine’s parts in order to make your food fit. If it doesn’t fit, don’t force it.
  • Do not jam the accelerator linkage or block airflow. Either one of these could cause your engine to break down.
  • Wrap your food items in at least 2-3 layers of foil. Foil is the main necessity when car cooking. Without lots of foil protection, do not attempt to put food on or near your engine.
  • When removing the food, use tongs or oven mitts. The engine is hot and so is your food. Carefully remove, unwrap, and serve.

The Foil Cone Test

The best advice we’ve seen for calculating the size of the meal you can safely cook on your engine is a method called “The Foil Cone Test,” This quick assessment of space will ensure that you correctly cut, wrap, and cook your meal without causing a hazard for yourself or your engine.

foil cone test - how to cook food on car engine


Before trying out a full meal, do this:

  • Place a “foil cone” that is approximately 5 inches tall onto the injector housing, then close the hood of the car on it. Open the hood to examine. If the cone is crushed, then you don’t have much room to cook, and your meals will need to be slim, like thin cuts of meat, fish, and sliced veggies or potatoes that can lay flat.
  • If your foil cone is not crushed, then you have plenty of room to stuff your foil cones with food, but remember you’ll need extra foil so that your food does not move around or leak onto your engine.
  • When securing the food, make sure it is snug and not near any moving parts. You can help secure it with additional foil or with baling wire (not any tubes or wires in your car). Use common sense.
  • Pick the right meal for the trip. Some meals take longer than others—don’t plan your trip around the meal, plan the meal around the trip (next to each recipe will be approximate cooking mileage).

Manifold Destiny book cover

These tips and the following recipes can be found in the quirky and innovative book, Manifold Destiny: The One! The Only! Guide to Cooking on Your Car Engine.

Road Trip Thanksgiving

To Grandmother’s House Road Turkey – Cooking Distance: 220+ miles

If you’re already planning to road trip to a relative’s house, and will be driving 200+ miles, you’ll have plenty of time to cook at least 5 pounds of turkey! With these instructions, you can roast turkey and road trip at the same time.


1 Boneless turkey breast, up to 5 lbs., sliced into thin strips against the grain
3 large baking potatoes, peeled and diced
3 carrots, finely diced
Dry white wine
Flour for dredging
Butter for greasing foil
Salt and Pepper to taste
¾ cup heavy cream


  1. At home, combine the turkey, potatoes and carrots into a bowl with the wine and cover. Marinate two hours in the refrigerator, and then drain well (and don’t drink the wine).
  2. Setting the vegetables aside, dredge the turkey pieces in flour, and then heavily butter five large squares of foil. Arrange equal amounts of turkey and vegetables in each square, and season with sale and pepper as desired.
  3. Cup the foil around the turkey and vegetables, and pour over each serving as much heavy cream as you can without making a soupy mess, then seal carefully.
  4. Cook on the engine about four hours, turning once. We’re assuming grandmother doesn’t live in the next town.

large turkey - how to cook turkey on car engine


Pat’s Provolone Porsche Potatoes – Cooking distance: 55 miles

What’s a turkey without sides? As an alternative to mashed potatoes with gravy, serve sliced potatoes with provolone, after cooking them on the medium-hot parts of your engine.


1/2 pound new potatoes
1 cup milk
1 cup water
2 ounces grated aged provolone (or my favorite, aged cheddar)
Salt & pepper


  1. Peel and slice potatoes to 1.4 inch thick.
  2. Place in a saucepan with the milk and water and simmer 10 minutes.
  3. Drain, and then spread onto heavily buttered foil.
  4. Sprinkle with your cheese (or cheeses, experiment with flavors) and seasonings.
  5. Sprinkle with butter, triple-wrap and place around medium-hot parts of the engine. Delicious.

car coking with tin foil


Cruise-Control Pork Tenderloin – Cooking distance: 250 miles

Looking for a different meat option to cook this Thanksgiving? “Cruise-Control Pork Tenderloin” is another car engine delight you can try out this holiday season.


1 large pork tenderloin, butterflied
3 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp dry white wine
1/2 cup red onion, minced
2 tsp rosemary (fresh), crushed
Salt & pepper


  1. Blend together all of the ingredients (except the pork) and spread across the inside of the pork tenderloin.
  2. Close up the pork, triple-wrap in foil and place on a medium-hot part of the engine. Turn once at 125 miles during cooking.

how to cook meals on car engine


Engine block cooking isn’t just for long trips. For short commutes, consider heating up pre-made breakfast sandwiches or making some hot dogs. We recommend experimenting with a meal or two before using this as a reliable cooking method.

Once you have found a suitable cooking surface and successfully cooked a meal, now you can use pretty much any recipe for the oven, for your car! Click here for more car-b-q recipes. Just make sure there aren’t a lot of liquids and that the food is fully sealed.

It will take a little experimentation to get the cooking times down, but if you check the food around 10-15 minutes before it’s supposed to be done, you should be safe.

If you’ve never tried this before, we recommend these safer ideas for what to bring to Thanksgiving:

  • Bread
  • Dessert
  • Coffee
  • Flowers
  • Wine/Booze

Click here for Black Friday Gift Ideas for Car-Lovers.

Wishing you safe travels and a Happy Thanksgiving!

Auto Simple wants you to find a car you love at a price you can afford. We carry a large selection of hand-picked, Certified Pre-Owned vehicles, all with a 6 month/6,000-mile Powertrain Warranty.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to speak with one of our Online Specialists or give us a call:

Chattanooga, TN – (423) 551-3600

Cleveland, TN – (423) 476-4600

Dayton, TN – (423) 775-4600

Dalton, GA – (706) 217-CARS (2277)

Follow us on social media for more useful information on buying, selling, and maintaining cars: FacebookTwitterYoutube, and Google+. 

6 Gift Ideas for Car Lovers and Automotive Enthusiasts

Black Friday is right around the corner, marking the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. If you’re looking for stylish and practical gifts for the automotive enthusiast in your life, then you’ve come to the right place. With 6 weeks left until Christmas, here are 6 of the best gift ideas to light up your car and your holiday giving spirit.

Of course, the ultimate present for a car lover is a car (browse our inventory and call for exclusive Black Friday deals)! But even if you’re not in the market to buy a beautiful car for Christmas, these vehicle accessories and related gift ideas are sure to please.

Gift Ideas for Car Lovers

1. Tactical Flashlight

Shine light on the holidays with the gift of a tactical flashlight. Every car owner should have a powerful flashlight in the car. Not only are they useful for finding things (like your keys), they can also be used for self-defense.

Originally developed for the military and law enforcement, tactical flashlights deliver an intense beam of light. They can be used to temporarily blind an attacker, allowing time to run or counter-attack.

Here are a few tactical flashlights on the market that would make any car owner happy:

Insight HX120 Flashlight

Insight Tactical Flashlight - gifts for car lovers

This waterproof flashlight comes with a Cree High Intensity LED with an output of 120 Lumens. It also features over 30 power settings, including a blinding strobe and an SOS signal flash. This product, developed by Insight Technologies, which specializes in weapon lights, retails around $60 and comes with a lifetime warranty.

SureFire Z2 CombatLight
SureFire Tactical Flashlight - Gifts for Car Lovers

SureFire’s line of tactical flashlights are praised for their brightness, ergonomic design, and ease of use. This is the same tactical flashlight that is used by U.S. Air Marshals and FBI agents.

2. Driving Gloves

Enhance the driving experience and impress the car lover in your family with a pair of old-school driving gloves. A good pair of driving gloves should be part of any car owner’s wardrobe. Not only are they stylish, but they also greatly improve the driving experience.

Since steering wheels can get dirty or slippery, a quality pair of driving gloves will provide a barrier to the germs and extra grip for enhanced control. Driving gloves also mitigate the effects of steering wheel vibrations and help maintain the look and feel of the car’s interior. Consider pairing them with a pair of Puma driving shoes.

Fingerless Driving Gloves

fingerless driving gloves on BMW steering wheel

Some drivers prefer fingerless driving gloves (sometimes called glovettes) because they are able to provide padding and palm protection benefits while also allowing precise control with your fingertips.

In warmer weather, fingerless gloves can be a more hygienic and comfortable option. The increased air flow helps prevent the gloves from getting wet with sweat. Should you need to perform a repair, fingerless driving gloves are also great for working on nuts, bolts, and other small objects without having to remove the gloves. If worn by a woman with long fingernails, fingerless gloves are probably the most comfortable option.

You can find many fingerless gloves on Pinterest and other sites. Prices range depending on the quality of the material. For $25, you can pick up this affordable yet chic option from Elma Men on Amazon (featured above).

Full-Finger Driving Gloves

full finger leather driving gloves - gift ideas for car lovers

The most classic of driving gloves are black leather and full fingered. Back when steering wheels were wooden and there was no heating system, drivers needed extra protection for their hands. Especially in the winter months, holding onto a frigid steering wheel can be unpleasant and distracting. They’re considered classic car fashion for a reason.

This extremely stylish pair from Autodromo (featured above) is a more expensive option at $125, but are sure to last. Ranked on many top driving glove lists, the company boasts that they will feel “poured on.” This is important as any good pair of driving gloves should fit! If you’re looking for a cheaper option, head over to Amazon for many $40 and under options, like these Pratt and Hart Deerskin Leather Driving Gloves, which come in three colors.

3. Car Staches and Lashes

Decorations aren’t just for Christmas trees. Two of the most fashionable and quirky ways to dress up your vehicle are with front grill mustaches and light lashes. Who says vehicles don’t like to get fancy for a night on the town?

Many people name their vehicles, and these accessories give any car a distinct personality. They also add a comedic or flirty vibe to match the personality of the car’s driver. Great for both teen and adult drivers, car staches and lashes are sure to bring smiles the whole year round.


brown car mustache - gift ideas for car lovers

Made popular right alongside the word “hipster,” car mustaches are the original humorous car décor. This is especially funny if the carstache matches the owner’s mustache. Visit (featured above) for a wide selection of carstaches, from black and gray to red and green, for compact vehicles or large trucks. Now all types of cars can grow a full grill of facial hair.


carlashes on a pink cadillac - gift ideas for cars

If you visit (featured above), you will find a plenty of lash colors, metallic options, and bedazzled sets. There are also several adorable and durable options on Amazon for under $30. Search keyword “Carlashes” to pick the perfect pair of lashes for your car’s front lights. A huge hit with female drivers of all ages, this gift is both flirty and fun.

4. Vehicle Backup Cameras

While front and rear-mounted cameras are quickly becoming standard safety features, most car owners have to settle for their eyes and mirrors. Or do they?

There are many camera devices that can be mounted to your front and back license plates regardless of the make or model of your vehicle. These devices can be hooked up to your iPhone or another screen mounted to your dashboard.

If you have a friend or family member that is always running into low obstacles and other hard-to-see objects, a backup camera system may be the perfect gift.

While most rearview cameras work pretty much the same, you should consider the various options available to you. This includes camera angle (usually between 120° and 180°), color, mounting location, night vision/infrared capability, weather resistance, and wired or wireless installation.

Value and price ranges considerably so make sure you look up online reviews and double-check warranties, features, and other pertinent information. We recommend looking for a camera with a wider field of vision, night-vision, weather resistance, and wireless capability.

Here are a few options to start with:

Pearl RearVision

woman installing rearview camera on license plate


quickvu backup wireless camera

Rear View Safety

rear view safety wireless camera for vehicle

5. Compact Battery Jump Starter

You or someone else is stranded on the side of the road with a dead battery. What do you do? This is where a compact battery jump starter comes in handy.

Everyone should know how to jump-start a car and have the necessary equipment to do so. Protect your loved ones and save the day with a battery jump starter kit.

Many compact jump starters also come with USB connections to keep all of your devices fully charged. While it may not seem like a great gift, they’ll be thanking you later for saving the day in the event of an emergency.

Here are some highly-rated battery jump starter kits to get you started:

  1. PowerAll PBJS12000R
  2. Cobra Electronics CPP 7500
  3. mPower Mini Jump
  4. BESTEK 600A Peak
  5. Antigravity Batteries XP-1 

If you don’t know how to jump-start a car, refer to this useful infographic from The Art of Manliness:

step-by-step instructions for jump starting car

6. Music Streaming and SiriusXM Subscriptions

For most of us, music or radio is a must have for any car trip. Although there are many free music streaming apps and services, did you know that many offer ad-free versions for an monthly or annual fee?

The two most popular ones are Pandora One and Spotify Premium, however, Tidal and Apple Music are big contenders as well.

Pandora One or Spotify Premium: Which Should You Choose?

Other digital subscriptions you may want to consider are SiriuzXM for radio-lovers and Audible for book-lovers.

Bonus Stocking Stuffers

Whether used for novelty or practicality, stuff your loved ones’ stockings with car swag for both male and female automotive enthusiasts:

Better Yet, Buy a New Car!

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If you’re looking for something a little bigger, check out our extensive inventory of Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles.

Here are just a few cars that are on the lot right now:

2015 Smart fourtwo Passion

2015 Smart Fourtwo white - Auto Simple

Location: Dayton TN
Mileage: 67 mi,
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Mileage: 85,742 mi,
22 City / 33 Hwy
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Location: Chattanooga TN
Mileage: 65,602 mi,
23 City / 28 Hwy
For Black Friday deals on our Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles, give us a call! Our prices are too low to list.

Happy Holidays!

Auto Simple wants you to find a car you love at a price you can afford. We carry a large selection of hand-picked, Certified Pre-Owned vehicles, all with a 6 month/6,000-mile Powertrain Warranty.

With locations in Cleveland, Chattanooga, Dayton, and a new store in Dalton, GA, we make it easy to walk away with your dream car. We specialize in financing for all credit levels, low down payments, and affordable weekly payments. In most cases we can have you driving your new car in less than an hour.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to speak with one of our Online Specialists or give us a call:

Chattanooga, TN – (423) 551-3600

Cleveland, TN – (423) 476-4600

Dayton, TN – (423) 775-4600

Dalton, GA – (706) 217-CARS (2277)

Follow us on social media for more useful information on buying, selling, and maintaining cars: Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and Google+.

*Preferred Customer program and free conventional oil changes every ninety (90) days are contingent upon the customer electing to make recurring payments to via ACH or debit card. Additionally, to continue in the Preferred Customer program and receive free oil changes, the customer’s loan must remain in good standing, and the customer may not cancel the recurring payment election. See store for further details. Other restrictions may apply.

Top 5 Games to Play in the Car During Holiday Road Trips

games to play in the car during road trips - family traveling in van

Our most popular family holidays are just around the corner. We love all of the food, presents, and magical decorations, but travel details and obligations to friends and family can get overwhelming.

It’s important not to stress and embrace the holidays as a time to bond, laugh, and celebrate life’s many blessings.

That being said, you have to get to the party somehow!

If you live within driving distance from your family members, you’ll most likely be foregoing flights in favor of the open road. However, the idea of spending several long hours in a vehicle with your family causes many to fear the clichéd “Are we there yet?” holiday road trip.

You may not be hosting the event this year, but you’ll need to figure out how to entertain the kiddos on your way to it.

Top 5 Games for Holiday Road Trips

Here are the top 5 games to play in the car with your family. You’ll sing, spy, guess, and giggle, and maybe even make it all the way without a single, “Are we there yet?”

1. “21 Questions

If you’ve ever wanted to read your child’s mind, or feel you possess the psychic gift, this is the game for you and your family. It’s the perfect entertainment for the nosy nelly in all of us.

How you play:

  • One person thinks of a person, place, or object—as a family you can decide on categories and topics!
  • Everyone in the car takes a turn asking specific questions in order to guess what their family member is thinking of.
    • Are they a celebrity?
    • Is it located in America?
  • The questions should only be answered with a “yes” or a “no.”
  • The first person to guess correctly is the winner, and becomes the next person to come up with a topic.

2. Battle of the Bands

If you’ve ever fought with your teenager over the radio, here’s everyone’s chance to play road trip DJ and show off their karaoke skills in the process. Since everyone will have their smart phones out anyway, might as well use them to jam out with the fam!

How you play:

  • Write down song categories on scraps of paper and put them in a bag, hat, cup, or whatever’s handy.
    • Christmas Songs
    • Television Theme Songs
    • Best Songs From 2016
  • Divide the car into two teams and come up with team names. Assign one person to keep score for added competition.
  • After teams have been decided and names picked, one person selects a song category from the container.
  • Each team then has 1-2 minutes to choose a song related to that category and look it up on their phones or iPod—you can choose a representative from each team and take turns, or pick as a team!
  • Each team takes turns playing the song they chose—everyone sings along!
  • The car judges which team chose the best song for the given category. Be honest!
  • The winning team gets the point.
  • Pick again!

Guaranteed to cause lots of laughter and nostalgia.

3. The ABC Game

A classic among road trip games, the Alphabet Game is fun for everyone from kindergarteners on up. It gets the kiddos and teens away from their screens to enjoy the scenery around them in a fast-paced and educational competition.

How you play:

  • The goal is to locate a word for every letter in the alphabet using only road, billboard, and building signs, in alphabetical order of course. Q and X are always the most frustrating!
  • You cannot use license plates, because those aren’t words!
  • Starting from the letter A, locate and say the A-word you find and move to the next letter in the alphabet.
  • Two people cannot use the same word—so see it and say it fast!
  • The first person to get to Z, wins!
  • You can set a timer and see who can get the furthest in the quickest time to switch up the game in round 2.

4. I’m Going on a Picnic…

Another entertaining alphabet game that counts more on memory than keen eye sight. For an added challenge, you can choose to reverse the alphabet and begin with Z, pick from a list of vocabulary words, or choose categories (food, animals) for the items you bring on your imaginary picnic.

How you play:

  • The first player begins the game by saying, “I’m going on a picnic, and I’m bringing… (a word that starts with A).
    • “I’m going on a picnic, and I’m bringing apples.”
  • The second player then repeats what the first player is bringing, but also adds on an item that begins with the next letter in the alphabet
    • “I’m going on a picnic, and I’m bringing apples and burritos.”
  • The first person to forget or mess up an item is eliminated.
  • The game continues until someone gets to Z, or all other players are eliminated.
  • The player with the best memory wins!
  • Change up the game by coming up with your own destination. Instead of a picnic, say, “I’m going to Hawaii, and I’m bringing…” or any other location you come up with as a family.

5. Backseat Bingo

This game takes some pre-trip prep, but is sure to be a hit with the 10-and-under crowd. Before you get in the car, grab something for those in the back seat to write on (a book or clip board), create free printable bingo cards, and fill zip lock bags with pennies, buttons, or other small objects that can be used as markers.

There are many free bingo creation sites. For younger kids, fill your bingo squares with pictures. For older kids, fill them with words. On your personalized bingo cards, pick words and images based on what you know you’ll see on the road trip! For example, you may fill a square with a Coca Cola billboard, a cow, a Chevrolet truck, or a California license plate.

How you play:

  • Depending on the age of your children, you’ll want to use either picture bingo or word bingo. Or create both for added challenge and variety!
  • Use personalized bingo boards and markers.
  • When your kids spy the place or thing out on the road, they cover the space.
  • The first person to cover 5 spaces in a row cries “Bingo!”

Beat the backseat blues with these popular family-oriented contests, and get the most enjoyment out of your road trip and your holidays. With these on-the-go games, 2016 will be the year your kids finally enjoy traveling as a family.

Wishing you a Happy Holiday Season from Auto Simple!

Auto Simple wants you to find a car you love at a price you can afford. We carry a large selection of hand-picked, Certified Pre-Owned vehicles, all of which come with a 6 month/6,000-mile powertrain warranty.

With locations in Cleveland, Chattanooga, Dayton, and a new store in Dalton, GA, we make it easy to walk away with your dream car.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to speak with one of our Online Specialists or give us a call:

Chattanooga, TN – (423) 551-3600

Cleveland, TN – (423) 476-4600

Dayton, TN – (423) 775-4600

Dalton, GA – (706) 217-CARS (2277)

Follow us on social media for more useful information on buying, selling, and maintaining cars: FacebookTwitterYoutube, and Google+.

*Preferred Customer program and free conventional oil changes every ninety (90) days are contingent upon the customer electing to make recurring payments to via ACH or debit card. Additionally, to continue in the Preferred Customer program and receive free oil changes, the customer’s loan must remain in good standing, and the customer may not cancel the recurring payment election. See store for further details. Other restrictions may apply.

Used Car Buyer’s Guide | How to Buy a Pre-Owned Vehicle

how to buy a used car - used car buyer's guide

Car buying is like the start of any new relationship. It will require time, money, and effort. You have to know yourself and what you want, and use a healthy mixture of logic and emotion. The results can be either wonderful or horrifying.

But before committing, you want to make sure you have done all due diligence. There is a lot of work and preparation to be done for the first time used car buyer.

Used Car Buyer’s Guide

How to Buy a Used Car

1. Research

Before inspecting and buying a used car:

  • Set a budget and narrow your used car search down to a couple specific vehicles.
  • Look up the make/model of your desired vehicle for any recalls, consumer complaints, or safety-related defects.
  • If your research turns up any common issues with the car, keep this in mind during the inspection process.

Once you’ve chosen a car that meets your needs and price range, you will need to get a vehicle history report.

Get a CarFax vehicle history report to learn important information about the vehicle you are considering.

All you need is the 17-character vehicle identification number (VIN).

All Auto Simple pre-owned vehicles go through a rigorous 180-point inspection and come with a free CarFax report.

If the CarFax report comes back clean, with no flood damage history, accident indicators, or other red flags, it’s time to inspect the vehicle.

Whether or not you get the car inspected by a third-party mechanic, it’s a good idea to know first-hand the used car’s condition. Although a CarFax vehicle history report provides you with a lot of useful information, you will want to conduct a thorough inspection of the vehicle yourself.

2. Inspection

Minor damage and scratches are acceptable, but you’ll have to decide if the price reflects that. If the car is really cheap, you may expect some damage to the interior and/or exterior.

Minor accidents shouldn’t be a problem if a proper repair has been made. But be sure to make note of any defects you find as it will help you in the negotiation process.

Larger damage is more serious, such as big crashes. This is why you will want to see a full car history report. Although new welds, paints, and other signs can indicate a major crash, you may not be able to tell what the car has been through during its life.


Walk around the outside of the car and look for any signs of damage.

  • Body Scratches, dents, and rust indicate how the car was treated by its previous owner. If body parts are not lining up properly or there are paint discrepancies, this is a sign that the vehicle was involved in an accident. You can also use a paint meter to ensure the vehicle history report is accurate.
  • Doors, Hood and Trunk – Test the doors, hood, trunk and any other moving parts. They should be easy to open and close. Make sure they all close fully and create a seal.
  • Tires  Examine the tires for wear and tear. Do they look nice and smooth? Are they all the same brand? How much tread is there? Do they have cracks or look dried out?  If you notice uneven wear on the tires, it may require an alignment. Ask the seller about the tires and if they have been regularly rotated. If you need tire replacements or alignments, use this during negotiations.
  • Lights – Test all of the lights including reverse lights, turn signals, and high beams. Inspect the housing for cracks or other moisture issues.
  • Underneath the Car – Get underneath the car if you can and look for any damage or rust.


Inspect the car’s interior and see if it has been well maintained.

  • Test All Electronics  Make sure everything works. Let the seller explain all the features and how to use them.
  • Check the Odometer – Compare any damage with the car’s mileage to see if it looks like normal wear and tear.
  • Check the Gaskets  If they are worn or damaged, you could get leaks.
  • Engine  The most important part of the car. Pop the hood and see if everything looks well maintained. Pay attention to any signs of rust, which can quickly spread.
  • Stripped Bolts  Look for marks on nuts and bolts for signs of repair work. If fenders have marks on the bolt, that means it has been repaired at some point.
  • Hoses – Look and feel around the hoses for cracks, holes, and fraying.
  • VIN Number – Look for the VIN or chassis number on the vehicle. It is normally located on the dashboard, driver’s side door, front engine block, or front end of frame. Make sure the number matches the numbers on the papers. If the chassis number has been filed off, don’t buy the car. It’s probably stolen.
  • Check Liquids  Check oil, transmission, power steering, and brake fluids. If the transmission fluid is brown or smells “burnt,” it could be on its last legs. Make sure the fluids are at proper levels. Look for oil leaks. If there is a leak, it’s important to investigate further.

3. The Test Drive 

This may be the best moment of the whole car buying process—driving a car that will potentially be “your baby.” It’s like a first date. And like any first date, first impressions are paramount.

  • Choose a cold day. Pay attention to how the engine sounds when you start the car and let it idle. Turn on the heat and see how warm and fast it is. Once the car warms up, quickly shift over the the A/C.
  • Pre-plan your route. Take the car on smooth and bumpy roads, hills and flat land, city streets and the highway.
  • Test all electronics. This includes windshield wipers, lights, radio, heating and air conditioning.
  • Test shifting gears. Is there smooth shifting? Does the steering wheel vibrate? If you feel odd vibrations or hear clunking or grinding noises, this could indicate a bad transmission. Feel the car at all the different gear settings, but there’s no need to take it to its top speed.
  • Check the brakes. This is not the time to be gentle. Get the car up to about 40-60 mph and then brake hard. Make sure it stops straight and the steering wheel isn’t shaking. This could indicate warper rotors, worn brake pads, or a loose brake caliper. A good healthy brake system will stop straight.
  • Check tire alignment. Make sure your steering wheel is completely straight and then take your hands off for a few seconds to see if the car veers to the right or left. If the tires are aligned, the car should continue in a straight line.
  • Listen carefully. Are there metallic sounds? If you hear clicking, rattling, clunking, and any other unusual sounds, further investigation is needed. Odd sounds and vibrations foretell repairs ahead.

For more information on inspecting a used car, read this Consumer Reports guide.

General Car Buying Tips

Increase your chances for success with a few extra precautions:

  • Never go alone. Always have someone accompany you. They will help you think through your options in a rational way. When you choose the person who will be going with you, try to pick someone with intelligence and experience, someone with a level head on their shoulders. They will help you ask critical questions.
  • Control your emotions. When looking for a new used car, try not to pay too much attention to aesthetics like colors and body work. If you feel yourself falling in love with a car, take a step back and reassess your emotions. To get the best car for your buck, use reason, not emotion. Pick a neutral color if you are thinking about reselling the car.
  • Make sure there are at least two keys. If one is missing consider the cost of getting a backup. It depends on the key, but newer keys with chips in them will set you back a couple hundred dollars. If it’s just a normal key, it won’t cost you that much.
  • Get a CarFax Report! CarFax is a comprehensive and trustworthy report on the vehicle’s history. With more than 93,000 data sources at their disposal, CarFax reports may include:
    • Title information, including salvaged or junked titles
    • Flood damage history
    • Total loss accident history
    • Odometer readings
    • Lemon history
    • Number of owners
    • Accident indicators, such as airbag deployments
    • State emissions inspection results
    • Service records
    • Vehicle use (taxi, rental, lease, etc.)

To ease your worries about purchasing a preowned vehicle, all Auto Simple cars go through a 180-point inspection and come with a free CarFax report. We do our best to bring the vehicle back to like-new conditions, including touching up paint and removing dents.

Plus, we offer a 6 Month/6,000 Mile Powertrain Warranty on all of our Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles. If for any reason you are unsatisfied with your purchase, you can return the vehicle within 48 hours—no questions asked.

Used Car Buyer's Checklist - How to Buy a Used Car (mini infographic)

Finalizing the Purchase

If you are buying from a dealership, the payment and purchase should be very easy. After all questions are answered and the paperwork is signed, you will receive the keys and copies of all the documents. It’s that easy.

In fact, you can leave the Auto Simple lot with a new pre-owned vehicle for as low as $500 Down!

Auto Simple wants to find you a car you love at a price you can afford. We carry a large selection of hand-picked, Certified Pre-Owned Vehicles, all of which come with a free CarFax report and a 6 month/6,000-mile powertrain warranty. We also own a private track for test driving!

With locations in Cleveland, Chattanooga, Dayton, and a new store in Dalton, GA, we make it easy to walk away with your dream car.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to speak with one of our Online Specialists or give us a call:

Chattanooga, TN – (423) 551-3600

Cleveland, TN – (423) 476-4600

Dayton, TN – (423) 775-4600

Dalton, GA – (706) 217-CARS (2277)

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*Preferred Customer program and free conventional oil changes every ninety (90) days are contingent upon the customer electing to make recurring payments to via ACH or debit card. Additionally, to continue in the Preferred Customer program and receive free oil changes, the customer’s loan must remain in good standing, and the customer may not cancel the recurring payment election. See store for further details. Other restrictions may apply.