Thinking of changing your car? Here’s what to look out for if you’re considering buying a used car

 In Star Automotive News

Buying a used car can be worrying, especially if you’re not sure what to look out for to know whether the car will be a wise purchase. To help avoid wasting your time and more importantly your hard earned money, I have outlined some of my top tips for viewing a used car.

Top tip 1 – Check all available documents and service history

Has the vehicle got all the documents it should, including a full service and MOT history? Do the records and receipts provided tie up with what the seller has been telling you about the car?

For some newer cars, you can use the website to view the previous MOT results for the car. Also, be sure to check the car’s registration documents, are they all correct and do they match up with the car? Take a look at this article from the RAC for further details on the documents that should be included.

‘Some information is missing, what could this mean?’ Unfortunately, not all sellers are genuine and it could mean the vehicle has had major issues in the past that they don’t want to disclose to you. If they’re genuine, the seller should be happy to give you the information of the service centre(s) they have previously used, so you can check for the history of the car with the garage. Not all sellers are bad, it could just be that they have misplaced the documents, trust your instincts.  

Top tip 2 – Is the body work up to scratch?

The last thing you want is to purchase a car that has previously been involved in an accident, which your not aware of. If any repairs have been completed ‘on the cheap’ using non genuine parts this could put you and your passengers at risk. Sometimes it’s actually reassuring to spot a few minor untreated issues on the bodywork or interior of a car because this shows the owner hasn’t made an attempt to cover things up or to mislead you as a potential purchaser. Again, as with the other things to look out for you must trust your gut feeling and seek the opinion of a professional if something doesn’t appear correct to you. Ultimately, nine times out of ten if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

Top tip 3 – Is the seller allowing you to test drive the vehicle?

If they are trying to make this tricky, it’s an automatic red light and could be a sign that something is wrong with the car, such as poor brakes or a gearbox that doesn’t allow for smooth gear changes. When test driving the car listen out for any unusual noises, rattling parts, and whether or not it offers a smooth drive. If you have any hesitations, there’s probably an issue.  

Always be weary if you turn up to view a car and the engine is already warm. This may mean the owner has started it prior to the viewing because the car has issues when started or driven from cold.

Top tip 4 – Are you going to be spending a lot of money on the car?

If you’re getting a good deal on a second hand car, make sure you’re not getting fooled into thinking there won’t be some big bills coming up. Do the tyres need replacing any time soon? Is your car insurance going to go up considerably? How soon is it until the MOT is due? When is the next service due and how much is it likely to be? All of these should be considered before purchasing.

Top tip 5 – Have a look under the bonnet

Have a look under the bonnet before parting with any money, and if you can, get a second opinion from a professional. Make sure there’s no rust, or build up around the engine and be sure to check the oil dipstick – if it’s too low it could be a sign of neglect, which could lead to bigger problems in the future. Take a look at our recent ‘Under the bonnet’ article for further recommended checks.

Even something as simple as leaves being left under the bonnet can be a sign that they haven’t looked after the vehicle, and if you’re buying a car older than 10 years, ask the seller how old the battery is in case that needs replacing anytime soon.

If you’re unsure of anything regarding the car but you really like it, give us a call because we are always happy to provide advice or an inspection.

If you’re 100% happy and decide to purchase your vehicle, make sure you visit Star Automotive for your next service, repair or MOT!

Ensuring that you have a trustworthy and reliable service centre on hand for any of your vehicle issues is important, my team have main dealer experience in many car makes and models and the right equipment to get a job done quickly and efficiently.

If you’re looking for car servicing, repairs or MOT’s, get in touch with my team at Star Automotive on 01202 697933.

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