Whether you’ve just passed your test and are looking to get your first car or you’re looking for an affordable little runaround that’ll get you from A to B, purchasing a used car is an exciting time! You may have browsed online and read the vehicle’s description thinking it’ll be the perfect one for your needs. However, when you’re stood next to the seller, you may have realised that you don’t actually know what makes a good used car. No matter what make or model you go for, whether it’s a high-class BMW or Mercedes-Benz or a little Renault, you want to make sure that what you’ll be driving away with is going to be putting in a reliable performance. Here are some all-important checks to carry out when buying a used car!
One of the most important things you want to check in depth when you’re looking to buy a used car is its tyres. As they’re the only point of contact between the vehicle and the road, it’s essential that the car’s tyres are in good condition. Checking the tread depth on your tyres is something that can easily be done with 20p, so it could be worth making sure you’ve got one in your pocket just in case. The tyre’s tread needs to be at least 1.6mm as this is the legal minimum. Anything below 3mm and you’ll have to factor in the cost of also buying some new tyres shortly. You’ll also want to look out for the tyre pressure. Though this is a little bit harder to analyse without having the correct equipment, a simple check to make sure they’re not looking too flat should do the trick until you can get to a garage. While inspecting the tyres, an obvious thing to look out for is any cuts, tears or bulges on any of them.
When you go and look at a used car, you’ll probably walk around it numerous times. As you circle the vehicle, make a mental note of how the bodywork is looking. Certain camera angles and lighting conditions can alter how the car looks in images, so it’s always worth giving the paintwork, panels and alloys the once over. You want to be looking out for any major damage to the exterior, such as dents and scuffed alloys. Depending on registration of the used car, it’s likely that there may be some wear on tear on the outside – but don’t like minor marks put you off. You want to make sure that there are no gaps or huge colour differences as this is a sure sign that the car has been involved in a bad crash. Keep an eye out for any small chips in the glass too as they could turn into serious cracks that require a full window replacement.
The conditions on the inside of the car you’re looking at need to be checked over too. If the previous driver has been a smoker or had pets in the car, the lingering smell and hairs can be difficult to get rid of. Check the upholstery for any stains or marks that you wouldn’t want to be there. If this is the case, either ask for them to cover the cost for a full valet or make sure the negotiate the final price
Ask whoever you’re buying a used car off to pop the bonnet so that you can inspect what’s going on underneath the hood. You’ll want to have a look at the levels of the oil as well as the brake and power steering fluid. If they’re looking a little lower than expected, it could be a sign that the car hasn’t been well looked after by its owner. Make sure that there haven’t been any oil leaks either – you can normally tell if there’s a leak if you look on the floor where the car is usually parked.
One of the best ways to check the electrics on a used car is to get yourself in, turn the ignition on and try everything obvious to make sure everything works as it should do. This includes things such as the radio, windows, wipers, indicators and air conditioning. If the car has been well maintained, you should find that everything is okay. However, it’s always worth just double checking all of the buttons and switches before you drive the used car away.
When buying a used car, it’s more important than ever to make sure that all of the documentation is in order. The main piece you need to check is the V5C – also known as the registration document or logbook. You want to make sure that the make, model and number plate all match up with what is in the V5C. This documentation will also tell you how long the seller has had the car and well as giving you details on the previous owners.