Buying a used car can be a daunting experience, but the following advice will guide you to the right car for you.
First up, finances
Before you start looking, give yourself a realistic budget and stick to it. Don’t be tempted by what you can’t afford.
And remember, it’s not just the car that costs, you need to take into account the following:
- Running costs – estimate how much it will cost you per month in petrol or diesel.
- Road tax – this is based on the car’s CO2 emissions, and costs can start at zero and go up to over £1,000 per year. Go online to check the tax bracket for the car you’re after.
- Insurance – check the insurance group for your model of car.
- Maintenance – make an approximation of yearly MOT and service (you might require an annual service to keep the manufacturer’s warranty valid).
Check the bodywork
Make sure you inspect the car thoroughly. Minor scratches and dents can be easy to repair.
However, any large gaps between panels or if there’s a colour difference between panels could indicate that the vehicle has been repaired after a crash. Be wary in these situations and proceed with caution.
Look out for leaks
Check under the bonnet and on the ground under the car for any signs of oil or water leakages.
Are oil, brake and power steering fluids all at the correct levels? Is the coolant expansion tank clean?
And is the oil cap clear or is there a white substance under it? This may be caused by condensation but can be produced by coolant mixing with oil – an indication the head gasket may have failed.
The general condition of the engine will signal if a car has been well maintained or not.
Examine wheels and tyres
Check the condition of the wheels, looking out for signs of kerbing. The tyres need to have a legal minimum tread of 1.6mm.
Bear in mind that if the tread is below 3mm, you should expect to have to change them in the not too distance future. This isn’t too expensive for standard tyres but can be a considerable amount if you need four matching premium tyres for a performance car.
Test all the electrics
A simple electrical fault can result in a hefty bill, depending on the type of fault and the car model.
Don’t be afraid to test everything, from putting windows up and down, switching on the air conditioning, checking the wipers, and even turning the radio on and off.
Check for wear and tear
All used cars will show some wear and tear that should be consistent with their age and mileage.
If a car has exceptionally low mileage but has an interior that shows heavy wear on the steering wheel, pedals and upholstery, it could be a sign that something’s not right.
Note if there are any chips on the windscreen as it will fail its MOT if they are in the driver’s eye line.
Take it for a test drive
Any seller should allow you to test drive the car. This is important as you’ll want to see how it feels to drive. How does it manoeuvre and brake? Does the steering feel comfortable?
Listen out for noises from the engine, underneath the car or on braking. Are there any squealing sounds or grinding or squeaking from the clutch or gearbox? Also, feel for any vibrations through the steering wheel.
Would you like advice from a friendly local garage?
Foster & Heanes have a range of used cars available, all with 3 months warranty. Please visit our online showroom at https://www.carsalesinfleet.co.uk/ or pop along to F&H in Dogmersfield.
We also 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.