Used Car Buying Advice

Last year, Citizens Advice revealed that between April and June, over £55 million was spent on used cars that weren’t up to scratch. So how can you avoid becoming part of this figure and throwing away your hard earned cash on a faulty vehicle? Here are a few things to look out for when buying a second hand car.

Do your research
  • Work out how much your insurance, tax and petrol is going to cost if you were to purchase the car
  • Read about any potential faults with the car you’re looking to buy (check out reviews on the internet)
  • Have a look at similar car advertisements, online and in magazines, to check that you’re not being ripped off
  • Follow your instinct –if it’s too good to be true, then it probably is!
Have a proper look at the car
  • Inspect the car in the daylight and when it’s not raining so you can get a good look at what you’re potentially buying
  • Take your time when you look at the car. Don’t be bullied into having a quick look. Trust your instincts. If alarm bells are ringing about the seller or the car, it’s time to look elsewhere
Take it for a spin
  • Always take the car for a test drive and, if possible, ensure that you drive on different types of roads. Aim to drive the car for about fifteen minutes but don’t forget to sort out relevant insurance beforehand
  • Test out reverse, use the handbrake and if it’s safe to do so, perform an emergency stop
  • Have a listen for anything that doesn’t sound right with the engine
  • If you’re lucky enough to have a friend who’s a Mechanic, now’s the time to call in a favour. Take them along with you so that they can have a look at the car and also listen out for anything unusual
Take a look at the mileage
  • Does it coincide with the general wear and age of the car?
  • Look out for unusually low mileage as the odometer may have been tampered with
Check the paperwork
  • UK road tax discEnsure there’s a valid MOT (if the car is over three years old)
  • Check the tax disc
  • Check the Log Book (also known as the V5C)
  • Make sure that all of the paperwork is genuine and view the originals, not photocopies
Woman buying carEnquire about the history of the car
  • Talk to the owner and get a full service history of the car. Make sure you get your hands on receipts for any work that has been carried out

Make sure you’re clear about all agreed terms before you hand over any cash and if you’re unsure of anything, ask. If you get a feeling that something isn’t quite right, then walk away. There are plenty of other used cars out there so it really is worth holding out and finding the perfect car for you.

Hopefully following our used car buying advice will help you along the way!

  • Anna Vaccaro