Used Car Checklist: What to Look for When Buying a Second-hand Car

If you’re in the market for a car, then the used market provides an opportunity to find one at a cut-down price. There’s a much broader variety of used cars available than there are new ones. What’s more, going used will help you to avoid the cost of depreciation, and help you to spend less overall.

The used market does, however, present a few risks that might trip up unwary motorists. In most cases, these risks can be mitigated with a few checks. Let’s take a look at exactly what you should be looking for when buying second-hand.

Check the dealer’s reputation

Part of the appeal of a quality used-car dealership is that you know that you’re buying from an organisation with a good track record. Make sure that you’re researched the dealer and that you’re aware of any potential red flags.

If you’re buying from a private seller, then you could potentially save even more – but doing so comes with additional risk.

Check the Engine

The engine is the most consequential part of the car. It’s here that any potential problems will show up. Look for leaks underneath the car. Oil will cause a sludgy deposit beneath the vehicle.

You should also take a look at the colour of the smoke coming out of the exhaust. It’s normal for a little bit of smoke to come out at the start – but if it’s persistently, smoky, then you might have a problem.

Check the Bodywork

Examine the bodywork all around. Look for evidence of any problems that have been touched up. If the car has been in more scrapes than seems plausible, it might be a sign there are other problems lurking.

Check the Tyres

If the tyres are nearing the legal limit for tread depth (which is 1.6mm), then you should think about asking for a discount. You’ll need to replace them soon enough. If the wear is focussed on one side of the tyres in particular, it might be a sign that the wheels aren’t properly aligned.

Go for a Test Drive

You should never buy a used car without first driving it. Ideally, drive it in a range of different roads, and make sure that the brakes are put through their paces.

Get the Documents

You can get the MOT for any vehicle through the internet. But other documents like the V5c and service history should be provided by the seller. If they aren’t available, this might not be a deal-breaker – but it’s reason to be suspicious of the sale.

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