It can be daunting buying a used car, especially when considering your average motorist doesn’t know what to look for when giving it a once over. It also doesn’t help that unscrupulous dealers will do anything to line their pockets by selling you a lemon.
Fortunately, we have created a checklist that should provide the information you need to give a used vehicle a thorough examination and determine whether or not it is a good investment. Also check out our list of the three most common used car selling scams once your done.
10. History check
Firstly, you should check the car’s history to see if there are any major issues. Ask to see all of the documentation and request a vehicle history check (you usually only need the VIN plate).
9. Compare the mileage and overall condition
Check that the mileage and general condition adds up – cars typically do around 12,000 miles a year. If something seems off, the mileage may have been tampered with or the car has been left unused for long periods (which can cause problems).
Carefully assess the bodywork of the car in good light. Dings and dents are relatively common but could help you to negotiate a better price. Look out or rust, repainting work or replaced panels.
The interior clearly indicates the age of the car, so look out for signs of age that could include ripped upholstery and faded seat covers. You should also make sure that all of the equipment and lights work.
6. Wheels and tires
Check the wheels for large dents and any bends and the tyres for cracks, splits and bulges (remember the spare too). The tread should be no less than 1l6mm. Any issues and negotiate money off – new wheels and tyres can be very expensive.
5. Under the hood
Now that the exterior has been checked, it is time to look under the hood (‘bonnet’ for our UK readers). You will want to look for signs of any leaking (remember to look under the car), check the oil level and the color of the coolant. Rev the engine and look at the exhaust to make sure that there is no blue or black smoke.
4. Test drive
Take the care out for a spin to see how it performs and whether it is comfortable to drive or not. Ensure that all gear changes are smooth and that the biting point is not further than half way through the pedal’s travel. You will also want to test the brakes thoroughly on the test drive. The steering wheel should also rotate smoothly.
3. Research the dealership
It is worth researching the dealership online and reading previous customer reviews. It is important to find a reputable dealership with a great reputation, such as Unbeatable Car Supermarket. This ensures that you will get a fair price on a good vehicle.
2. Mechanic assessment
Before making the plunge, find a reputable mechanic to give the car a thorough assessment. It will cost a small sum and ensure that the vehicle is road safe and of a high standard.
If everything looks positive, start negotiating a price. You should research average prices of other models being sold and start with this figure and never go over your pre-determined budget.