What to look out for when buying a used car

Blog · Our World

What to look out for when buying a used car

There are so many different things to consider when buying a used car we thought it might be helpful to put together a list of the areas to think about, and hopefully take some of the stress out of it for you!

Unless you're buying from a dealer, you are unlikely to get any type of warranty when buying a used car, so if something does go wrong, it will be down to you to fix it, it's therefore more important than ever to make sure everything is in order before you hand over what will probably be a considerable amount of money and drive off...

1. Engine

Possibly the most integral part of the car, it is essential to make sure the engine is in good working order:

  • Check the oil level - it should be just under the max level, as if it is too low it may indicate neglect. Similarly, it is worth checking all other fluid levels to ensure they are where they should be!
  • Are there any strange noises coming from the engine when started up?
  • Do any warning lights stay displayed on the dashboard - this could signal it is in need of servicing or that there is a fault with the engine.
  • Has the cambelt been replaced and if not, is it due to be done soon? This is a fairly large job and may mean you can secure a discount off the price if it needs doing imminently?
  • Check that the car's VIN under the bonnet and in the log book match up.
  • Check under the oil cap for a white mayonnaise-like residue as this could indicate that the head gasket has gone, which unfortunately means a new engine!
  • Look under the car for signs of rust and around the engine bay for any leaks - it could be expensive to fix!

2. Interior and exterior checks:

  • Check the paintwork - it may seem obvious, but you should make sure you go around the whole car to check for any damage or signs of repair. And, never view a car in the rain as it will help cover up any number of sins, including paintwork scratches! If you do happen to find any small areas of paintwork damage, we can usually repair it very cost-effectively!
  • Try out everything to make sure it works - heating, radio, sat-nav, windows, sunroof, air conditioning, bonnet release, seat adjusters, electric mirrors, heated windscreen, central locking etc.
  • Check for wear and tear on the seats, which often become worn on the outside edge in high mileage cars, and the steering wheel, which might get shiny through age and use. If both of these are happening yet the car only shows 15,000 miles on the clock, it may indicate something a little dodgy has gone on!
  • Check the mileage is consistent with past MOT records.
  • Check for any inconsistent gaps between panels, as this could indicate involvement in a crash.
  • Check the wheel arches for any signs or rust or bubbling paint as this is usually where it occurs first and would need fixing as soon as possible to prevent it from worsening!
  • Ensure the tyres are above the legal minimum tread depth of 1.6mm and that the spare is in good working order.
  • Make sure all doors, boot and bonnet close normally, as any issues could indicate it has been crashed in the past.
  • Are locking wheel nuts fitted, and if so, ensure the special adapter is also included.


3. Paperwork:

  • Check the seller is also the registered keeper as shown on the V5 and if not, why are they selling it for someone else?
  • Can you see the V5C as you won't be able to tax the car without it and you can check that the registration number matches.
  • If the car is more than three years old, ask to see the MOT certificates and servicing records to check the mileage all corresponds appropriately.
  • Does the car have a full service history - if not, why not?
  • Ask to see records of any repairs and servicing done to the car to check for recurring faults/ issues.
  • To check for things such as outstanding finance, whether it's been recorded as stolen or ever been written off, company's such as the AA offer vehicle history checks for a small fee, and if you're ever even slightly worried, they're definitely worth doing!

It's also worthwhile taking someone who knows about cars along and asking them, as well as you, to test drive it - two pairs of eyes may well be better than one - especially when it comes to buying a used car!

We really hope you find what you're looking for and manage to avoid any costly mistakes, but if you do ever need to call in the experts to repair any paintwork scratches or bumper scuffs, it's worth keeping ChipsAway in mind - to save time and money with our cost-effective, convenient service!

Our affiliates & accreditation

3MLog.jpg AALogo2.jpg BFAFullLog.jpg BVRLAAssoc.jpg IMI Approved.jpg ISO9001Logo (1).jpg ISO 14001Logo.jpg PPGLogo.jpg Supagard-Logo.jpg TSI-AppLogo.jpg VBRA Logo.jpg