What To Look For When Buying A Used Car

Issue 96

Buying a car is exciting but it doesn’t always have to be brand new. Opting for a used car comes with many benefits for drivers, including better prices and value, proven reliability and lower insurance rates. You’ll likely find an equivalent of the model you want at a significant discount.

That being said, buying a used car comes with a little more risk so you need to make sure you’re asking the right questions to get the most out of your investment.

Where to look

Knowing where to look for a reliable used car is the first hurdle for many car hunters. Luckily there are many reputable and well-supplied avenues for you to explore, including online platforms such as Cazoo and private sales. These typically offer the best prices, but local dealerships use approved cars so you don’t need to be worried about being out of pocket should something go wrong.

Local garages are another great option. If you are based in Yorkshire, you could find the model you’re looking for at car dealers in Leeds or other major cities close to where you live. This will help you save money on travel and adding unnecessary miles to your new car.

What to check

You need to take care when choosing a used car and there are some essential checks you need to do to ensure you’re not buying something that will come back to haunt you. You should keep your eyes peeled for problems in the following areas:

Tyres – give your tyres a good kick and inspection before driving away on them. Make sure they are the type of wheels you are expecting for the money you’re spending and that have the legal minimum of tread. This, you can check with the 20p trick.

Dents and Scratches – these should be fairly noticeable but it’s a good idea to view the bodywork of your chosen car in clear daylight. If you come across any, you can use these to negotiate the asking price.

Glass – check for chips in the windscreen or any cracks that could mean you’ll have to repair it sometime soon. The same applies to the front and rear lights of the car.

Electrics – try out the radio, make sure the windows go up and down and make sure the air conditioning works.

Documents and history

There is certain history and documentation that any car seller should be able to provide you, whether you buy privately or from a dealership. Essential information for car sales includes the V5C registration form (this is a big one – you won’t be able to tax your car without it!) and whether the vehicle identification number (VIN) and vehicle description match the V5C.

You should also check the MOT status of the vehicle online and for any signs that the car may have been stolen.

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