So you’re considering buying a used car? Brands vary widely, and titles can be confusing. To help combat this, we’ve compiled some crucial things to check for when buying a used car in the UK. From checking, the vehicle has given an entire service history, whether or not it has fitted with theft deterrent devices and more!
What should I check when looking at a used car?
Each of us has been there. When you arrived to look at a vehicle you were considering purchasing, you realised as you stood next to the seller that you had no idea what you were looking for.
Follow our advice to avoid the awkward (and fruitless) situation where you circle the car kicking tyres while acting like you know what you’re searching for.
Before purchasing a used car, conduct vehicle inspections.
Here are a few points of what to watch out for, but an online search can help you better understand what to look for with particular makes and models.
Kicking the tyres has already been suggested, but getting on your knees and thoroughly examining them is essential.
How much traction do they have?
They must be 1.6mm thick at a minimum, so if they are less than 3mm, you must consider the cost of upgrading them soon.
- Scratches and dents
The bodywork looks good.
Are the wheels showing any kerbing damage?
It’s crucial to check a car out in broad daylight. Much can get hidden by rain or darkness.
All used cars will show signs of wear and tear, but is it reasonable, given the age and mileage?
Alarm bells should go off in a car with minimal mileage but substantial wear on the driver’s seat, steering wheel, and pedals.
Does the windscreen have any cracks?
They might develop into cracks, necessitating the replacement of the windscreen. They might also constitute an MOT failure if they are in the driver’s field of vision.
Additionally, check the front and rear lights for cracks, chips, fogging, and internal moisture.
- Fluid amounts
Check the oil, brake, and power steering fluid levels by opening the bonnet. Low tyre pressure could indicate that the vehicle hasn’t been properly maintained.
Watch out for any indications of oil leakage under the bonnet while you’re there. It is worthwhile to investigate underneath the automobile, which is where it is typically kept.
A thorough free car check is advantageous when purchasing a used vehicle.
Free vehicle history checks on used cars
Learning as much as possible about a used car’s past is crucial before purchasing one. This assists you in discovering information that the vendor might not want you to know.
According to research, up to one in four vehicles have a hidden history, including stolen, written off, or unpaid debt (which could cost you dearly).
Full Car history checks can reveal the following in addition to determining whether the vehicle has been stolen, written off, or has outstanding debt:
- Any mileage discrepancies that might indicate whether the vehicle has been timed by purposefully winding the miles back, as well as the most common breakdown caused by make and model
- MOT failures that are frequent by make and model
- Insurance write off category check
- Car spec check by reg number
- Scrapped car check
- An unbiased vehicle review
- A car valuation
Used car accident damage inspections
You may look for indicators that might point to a vehicle in an accident.
Check all panel gaps to ensure that they are all securely aligned, with a small, even space between them, and that the paint colour is consistent throughout the entire vehicle. If you look attentively, anything that doesn’t seem right may have some bodywork.
Watch for bodywork ripples that could indicate it was damaged and improperly fixed using filler; a magnet should show whether this is the case, as filler is not magnetic.
Checking documents for used cars
When buying a used car, the V5C, commonly referred to as the registration document or logbook, is the most crucial document to inspect.
Verify that the car’s make, model, number plate, and other details match those on the V5.
Additionally, you can verify that the Vehicle Identification Number, or VIN, displayed on the vehicle matches the VIN on the outside of the car in the lower portion of the windscreen.
Used-car MOT and service history checks
The need for an MOT certificate has diminished because it is now possible to verify a car’s history online and determine whether it has a valid MOT.
If you’re unfamiliar, the MOT test is a yearly inspection of a vehicle’s roadworthiness required for all cars older than three years.
Take note of any advisories the tester has given and check the MOT certificate’s expiration date (or check it online).
Some are simple to examine (such as if a tyre has little tread). Still, others aren’t (such as underbody rust), which may indicate that the seller is trying to get rid of a problematic motor before major expenses arise. The seller may or may not have addressed these.
MOT Law proposal changes in 2023
In response to the growing popularity of hybrid and electric vehicles and the advancements in vehicle technology, the government has opened a public consultation to get opinions on modifying MOTs.
The initial MOT for new light cars should be performed four years after purchase to verify that they are fit for the future.
The fundamental goal of the plans is to keep the UK’s record of excellence in road safety. According to data, most new cars pass their initial MOT test in three years.
According to government data, the increase from three to four years for the initial MOT shouldn’t influence road safety, given the continued low number of fatalities in accidents caused by defects in the vehicles.