5 Things To Check When Buying A Used Car
Buying a used car for the first time can be a very daunting experience. Of course you know what car you want, you know your budget, but you must be sure you are buying a quality vehicle. Our tips below will guide you through the 5 ‘must do’ steps before you commit to any purchase. Don’t worry though, they are easy to perform and could save you thousands of pounds.
If the car has previously been involved in an accident, you want to know about it. Performing some easy checks can help spot any tell tale signs!
– Visually check to make sure the paintwork has an even finish. If the shade of the paint differs somewhat across the vehicle this could be evidence of a respray.
– Check that the doors and boot open and shut smoothly and that there’s no paint on the rubber seals. Also ensure the gaps between the panels are all the same width apart. If this isn’t the case, it could point towards evidence of previous body repair.
– Bubbling paint is an indicator of rust and is most common around the wheel arches. It can also be easily spotted around window frames and bumpers but check everywhere, especially areas that come into contact with water on a regular basis.
– Finally be sure all the tyres are road legal and don’t forget the spare wheel. This is normally located in the boot and the legal minimum tread depth is 1.6mm across the entire width of the tyre.
First of all check the mileage on the odometer and make sure it matches both the advert, plus that of the official paperwork. Then check the wear levels on the seats to be sure they don’t appear more used than what the mileage suggests. Often the steering wheel is also good indicator of use, many develop a shiny appearance after excessive handling.
– It sounds obvious, but make sure you check all of the cars components and functions. It’s easy to miss the odd one and that can be very costly if you want them repaired in the future.
– Look for signs of damage caused by theft. This is most obvious around the steering column but also inspect around the ignition.
– Check the dashboard, steering wheel and seat belts for any signs of damage. Damage to any of these could indicate the vehicle was once involved in an accident and the air bags were activated.
3. The Engine
Straight away start by looking out for any visible signs of liquid under the vehicle and on the floor. It’s very important to establish if the vehicle has any leeks relating to the mechanical components. Then lift the bonnet and do the same in and around the engine itself.
– Perform a manual oil check using the dipstick, ensuring the oil is at the ‘max’ level and that it’s free from any solid particles or debris. If debris is present it means the engine could have possibly been neglected, but either way it will require an oil change.
– Check for a white substance under the oil cap and on top of the engine itself. Unfortunately if this is present it could mean a fault with the head gasket, which is a serious problem and often unfixable.
– Be sure to check all the brake fluid levels and engine coolant to ensure they are at the recommended ‘fill’ lines.
– Finally check that the battery is rust free (on the terminals) and in a decent state.
If you found the used car via a private seller, ensure you view the car at their home. Ensure the home address matches that on the documents.
– Gather ALL the relevant paperwork, most importantly the MOT certificates, service stamps and of course the log book itself. Thoroughly check over any faults with the car that have previously been repaired. If they are reoccurring make sure they aren’t major that could cause issues in the future.
– Be sure that all paperwork is original with an accredited stamp from a certified garage. If anything concerns you or looks suspicious don’t hesitate to contact the garage, as they keep records of any work carried out.
– Finally match the Vehicle Identification Number with that in the log book to the ones on the car. In most cases they can be found at the bottom of the windscreen, under the drivers carpet and underneath the bonnet.
5. Research your seller
Always buy a car from a trusted source. If you choose a private seller then follow the steps carefully outlined above in section 4. However if you choose to buy from a member of the trade, do your research first.
Look for reviews or testimonials online to asses their customer service levels and overall customer satisfaction ratings. Many classified websites will state whether or not a dealer comes recommended so be sure to take advantage of this feature. They may also offer warranty repair packages which could be worth considering, in case of future breakdowns or faults.
Finally be sure to utilise the quick and simple online checks from the likes of HPI. For a minimal fee they will establish if the vehicle has been previously written off, stolen, or has any unwanted finance associated with it.