The cars we drive are among the most significant investments we make (second only, perhaps, to the houses we live in). The used market is a great place to make such an investment- but it’s also a potential source of difficulty, especially for those who haven’t done enough research.
Fortunately, you can get around the majority of problems by taking a few simple precautions. Let’s assess some of the more effective steps you can take.
Check the Service History
The vehicle’s service history and MOT will show up any persistent problems. Vehicles which are inherently reliable and well looked-after should show up fewer issues. Make sure that you know when the MOT is due before the keys are handed over. If the seller seems reluctant to share details of this kind, you should consider it a red flag. Buying from a reputable used car dealer will help you to avoid such problems.
Check the V5C and Vehicle Identification Number
The V5C certificate is the most effective way to ensure that a vehicle hasn’t been stolen. If you don’t have the certificate, then you won’t be able to register the vehicle in your name, or tax it. Be sure that the vehicle ID matches the one on the certificate.
Check the Mileage
While the mileage isn’t the be all and end all of a car’s value, it gives an important insight into the vehicle’s history. The more miles that the car has covered, the more wear and tear it’s been exposed to, and therefore the more vulnerable it will be to problems further down the line. Check that the odometer hasn’t been tampered with by checking the mileage against the service history.
Check the Vehicle’s Condition
It should go without saying that you should take a look at the vehicle in person before you elect to buy it. There’s only so much information you can get from a picture you’re shown on the internet – and that picture could be out of date or doctored. Check for signs of forced entry around the edges of the doors, and the handles. Check the bodywork for nicks, bumps and scratches – not only might these affect the visual appeal of the car, they’ll also give an indication of how much care and attention has been paid by the previous driver. Someone who neglects the look of their car might also have neglected it in other ways.
Check that the Car Runs
Before you part with your money, you should insist on taking the car for a test drive or at least starting the engine. While you’re behind the wheel, listen for any curious sounds, and pay attention to the way that the vehicle handles. If you notice that something’s amiss, then you can either use it to drive down the asking price – or you can simply walk away.