Whether you’re buying a used car from a registered dealer or a private seller, there are a number of factors to take into consideration.
Let’s take a look at some of the main areas you should check to ensure you’re getting the best value for your money (and not being misled into buying a defective vehicle).
Check the car’s history and market value
Look online or in car magazines for similar used cars on the market. This will give you a feel for the price you should be paying.
Next find out as much as you can about the car’s history. Check the service history and previous MOT certificates. If a seller doesn’t have these, then there could be something wrong.
Ask the seller to show you the vehicle’s V5C registration document. This will provide details of the registered keeper and previous keepers. Look for the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) on the car – it’s usually found at the bottom of the windscreen, under the bonnet, and stamped into the framework under the carpet by the driver’s seat. Ensure it corresponds with the VIN in the V5C registration document.
If you have concerns about the vehicle, it’s advisable to pay for a vehicle history check as this will help you to avoid costly mistakes.
Look at the mileage
What’s the mileage of the car? Is it high for its age? This will have an impact on the car’s asking price.
Also, be wary if the mileage looks too low for the age and appearance of the car. The practice of clocking (winding back the mileage to increase the value and asking price of a car) hasn’t gone away – it’s just the method of doing it that’s changed. Most modern vehicles have digital systems, and it’s a case of connecting a laptop to them and using software to adjust the mileage.
When you’re looking at the car’s previous MOTs and service history, check to see if the mileage has gone up at a steady rate each year. If it’s done 30,000 miles one year and only 1000 the next ask the seller why.
View and test drive the car
Arrange to view the car and take it for a test drive.
As well as thoroughly checking the exterior and interior of the vehicle also take a look under the bonnet for any signs of rust or indications that the car’s been in an accident.
Allow plenty of time for an inspection and don’t be pressurised into hurrying up by the seller. Check underneath the car for any obvious signs of rust, wear and tear or damage. And examine the condition of the tyres, in particular, the depth of tread and any side-wall damage. If the tyres show uneven wear, this could be because the wheels aren’t aligned properly.
When you test drive the car listen out for any odd noises and note how the steering, brakes and gears feel. If anything doesn’t feel right, ask the seller about it.
Examine locks and windows
Finally, it’s worth casting an eye over the windows and locks. Does anything standout such as signs of forced entry via a window or sunroof? Do all the doors and windows open and close properly?
Plus, are any of the locks different to the others? If they are, it could be a sign that the car’s been broken into.
Are you looking for reliable car maintenance and servicing?
We offer car servicing, maintenance and repair for all makes and models of vehicles including classic and vintage cars. We can arrange free collection and delivery if you live near our Fleet or Dogmersfield service centres. We also buy and sell quality used cars. View our online used car showroom at https://www.carsalesinfleet.co.uk/sterandheanesltd.co.uk