First of all, apologies for the delay in this blog, many people have been asking for a while to write an article on tips on buying a used car. From the past 7 years in the business I have seen all sorts or cars, with all sorts of problems, negotiated with different kinds of people, so although I appreciate I do not know it all, and probably have a lot more learning to do here are my top 10 tips on buying a used car:
1. Find the right car that fits all your requirements
Find out as much as you can about the car that you want, don’t just be tempted by colour or looks as there is a lot more to a car than just how it looks. Think about insurance bracket, and how much that is, the road tax annual fee, any common faults with the particular car your looking at – most google searches with the word “review” after will find you some good information for example type in “2009 Ford Fiesta Review” most websites will then enable you to click in and find the exact model you want ion on.
2. Check the price
What sort of price are you expected to pay for the car your looking at? There are a few different options here, the best way is to look on auto trader & ebay motors and get a feel for what year & mileage you can get for your budget – there will be quite a spread depending on documentation, condition and who is selling it (trader vs private) but you can get a good idea within £1000. Another way is to visit whatcar.com as they offer a valuation service free of charge.
3. Check out who the seller is
Dealer: when you buy from a dealer, you will be paying more for the car than from a private seller, however you do benefit from having legal protection should there be a problem with the car once purchased. By law they have to give at least 3 months warranty and sometimes you can claim off them upto 6 months after purchase. Also, again a quick google search of the garage/dealer will bring up any horror stories.
Private seller: If you call a “private seller” ask “Is your car still for sale?”, if they say “which one?” you know you are dealing with a dealer/trader that is trying to impersonate a private seller, thus avoiding legal obligation to provide warranty etc. However if they are a genuine private seller, make sure you go to their home to view the car and ensure the V5 log book is registered in the same address where you are.
4. Look over the car
Make sure you go in the daylight and not when it has been raining. Rain covers up most scratches and dents. Check all electrics, air conditioning, media unit etc. Check the oil under the bonnet both on the dip stick to see if there is a sufficient quantity and where the oil goes in (oil logo on black cap) unscrew this and check to see if there is a mayonnaise, creamy sludge around the rim of the cap – this can be a sign of a head gasket going – if it has stood for a long time this can occur also. If you are at all unsure take someone who is mechanically minded with you.
5. Test drive
Make sure you are insured on the vehicle and can prove this to the seller. Most people with fully comprehensive cover are covered 3rd party on another insured vehicle, if it is SWORN off the rod, then you are not insured until the vehicle is insured. Take the car for a lengthy test drive, get it up to 70mph as this is when overheating problems can occur and a local round the block trip would not show this. Turn the radio and any heaters/fans off so you can listen carefully for any noises. In particular listen out for knocking noises, whirring noises, ticking noises and feel for vibration on the steering wheel. Anything that “doesn’t sound right” usually is not!
6. Check the mileage
The easiest way to check the mileage is to go: to https://www.gov.uk/check-mot-status
All you need to do is enter the registration, and last MOT test number and this will bring up all the old MOT’s, what was done and the mileage at each test, also check the service history correlates to the MOT mileages. Remember you only have an MOT once the car is 3 years old. If buying a car within the 3 year period, check the service history and look at the steering wheel, pedals, seats and satisfy yourself that the wear and tear on these areas are consistent with the mileage on the car.
7. Check the paperwork
Check the V5 log book, this will show the make and model of the car, who the current registered keeper is and how many former keepers the car has. Also it will have a chassis or vin number, make sure you check this number against the number in the bottom of the passenger side windscreen – they HAVE TO both match, if not it could be stolen or a clone. Also check the MOT and TAX disc.
8. Check the service history
All cars should have a record of service history. This usually tells you if the car has been looked after or not. There should be a service book with the garages stamp when it was serviced and the mileage. Main dealer (the manufacturer who made the car) stamps are the best, and cars with this service history will be worth a little more. If there isn’t a service book but they have invoices of work carried out, this is just as good. Have a good look through the documentation for major work carried out and that things such as filters, timing belts have been changed when they should of been.
9. HPI check
This is extremely important, this will tell you if the car has finance recorded against it, is stolen, has been in a major accident in the past or anything untoward that without the check you wouldn’t know.The checks cost upto £15 and are available instantly – this could be the best £15 you ever spent. Only do this check when you are happy with everything else first and want to buy the car.
10. Be a good buyer
Turn up for your appointment on time, do your homework and checks before you make an appointment, this enable you to make swift decisions and offering to take the car away there and then puts you in a better negotiating position. If you need a loan or finance, make sure you have this in place before you view the car. If everything adds up and your happy – offer the seller a cash deposit, and make sure you get a receipt for this, then the easiest most secure way of making a payment is direct internet transfer (with the cash deposit deducted).