posted 6 years ago

What To Check When Buying Used Cars

“What should I check when buying a used car” is the most common question in the galaxy

“What should I check when buying a used car” is the most common question in the galaxy. Luckily, the answer is fairly straightforward. But first things first. Whatever car you buy, whatever you spend, whatever you check - there is no way to guarantee it will be trouble free. Even a new vehicle could explode like a supernova, after all. The purpose of checking a used one is therefore to minimise rather than eradicate risk. Furthermore, it is best to keep expectations in-line with the class of vehicle and its price. As such, a heavily scratched bumper could be overlooked when bolted to an old supermini - but not a nearly new luxury car. With that in mind let us consider the following beginners' guide:

Step one is the MOT History Check at Here, you can enter the car's registration and MOT Test Number. Why? To confirm the certificate is valid. This check is historical too. It therefore shows the pass/fail rate over several years which suggests how reliable the car has been. Walk away if it has failed every MOT with big faults. The MOT History Check also highlights any advisories. Check these have been fixed or ensure they are reflected in the price. Also, study the service history/invoices. Look for evidence that the car has been consistently cared for such as stamps/receipts for servicing, wipers, and minor repairs. Look for bigger items too such as a recent exhaust. That should be one less bill in the near future. But be careful. If there is proof of reoccurring faults … think twice. Plus, check the mileage rises consistently on the MOT certificates, in the service book, and on invoices. Contact a company such as HPI too. This reveals, for example, whether it has been written-off, stolen, or has outstanding finance.

It is also important to check the V5C Registration Certificate (log book). As such, says: “Make sure it has a DVL watermark and the serial number isn’t in the range between BG8229501 to BG9999030 or BI2305501 to BI2800000. If it is, the V5C might be stolen. Contact the police as soon as it’s safe to do so.” Also, “make sure the details in the log book match the details you’ve been given” (and) “check the vehicle identification number and engine number. Make sure these match the details on the log book.”

The next step is the inspection. Whereas only mechanics fully understand the complexities of cars – and the universe – everyday motorists can spot common faults. Start by checking for accident damage such as bent panels (including the gaps), cracked lights, and mismatched paint. Nobody wants a car that has been in a wall, after all. Check for rust too as this can lead to expensive repairs. Furthermore, look for any kind of leak around the engine, under the car, and in the cabin/boot. Then comes the test drive. On a flat road, the vehicle should accelerate smoothly without pulling on the steering. It should also brake confidently in a straight line. If not … why not? Also, check the gearbox is smooth and that the handbrake works. Then, test equipment such as the air-conditioning, electric seats, sat-nav, radio etc. Press every button, in other words. During the test drive it is also important to listen for strange noises such as clonks and squeaks. If it passes your tests, it might be worth paying for a professional check from a company such as the AA. Then cross your fingers that everything is all right in the galaxy.