A used car is far cheaper than buying new and gives you the chance to nab your dream set of wheels without paying a premium. However, there are a few traps you need to watch out for. Here are our top tips to help you buy the perfect used car.
Pick a Budget
Like buying any high-ticket item, when buying a used car you have to work out your budget. Will you be paying through a finance scheme or in a lump-sum? If you are paying with a deposit, work out what your monthly payments will be in advance. Make sure you have all the numbers sorted and don’t let yourself be fooled by a smooth-talking salesman. Cars cost a lot of money – even second-hand ones – and only you know how much your budget can stretch.
Always Go in Good Light
The right angle and lighting can hide a multitude of sins. You want to view a car in daylight and when it is sunny. Any other conditions, especially rain, can hide bumps and scratches on the surface of the car. Make sure you are able to walk around the car and view it from all angles. You also must the tires, the interior and under the hood, as these are all common places that can show wear-and-tear.
Don’t be afraid to take along a second pair of eyes. A friend or family member may be able to spot something you don’t.
Check the Paperwork
Whenever you buy a used vehicle you must insist on seeing the V5C logbook. This shows who the registered keeper of the car is plus any previous keepers. Remember that the keeper is not necessarily the owner of the car but rather the person responsible for keeping it taxed. It is a legal requirement that the logbook match the current car so you as a buyer need to ensure the registration and chassis number matches that of the car. Don’t get caught out by a fraud.
Ask to see the complete MOT history of the car for the past few years. A car that is a few years old should have a few MOT certificates and garage bills to its name. Find out when the next MOT is due and start to research local MOT services for you to use when the time comes.
If possible, ask to take the car for a test-drive. If you are buying from a used car dealer, this will be an option as they will have special insurance which allows you to go out on the road. If you are buying from a private seller, you will not be able to go for a test drive as you are not covered by insurance.
A test-drive is the only way to know if you truly like a car. Spend no less than half an hour driving around and make sure to try out all the different road types that you can manage in your area. You need to pay attention to everything, from the steering to the suspension – and only then will you truly know if this is the used car for you.