5 Things To Check When Buying A Used Car

5 Things To Check When Buying A Used Car

Buying a new car is a pleasure because, apart from anything else, the happy owner knows that no other driver has had their hands on it. It’s a big expense though and for lower cost used cars are often preferred; but there’s a snag. Little will be known of the vehicle’s previous history for example and how it was driven. That’s why a full maintenance history from a professional car servicing garage is a must, for peace of mind: But what other things should the potential customer look out for? Here are five things to check:

Tyres

They should be in good condition with plenty of tread. Tyres that are worn down or wheels that have a lot of kerb damage on the rims (alloys are particularly susceptible) may indicate a lack of care on the part of the previous owner. Don’t forget to check the spare wheel if supplied. Some cars have tyre kits which also should be present and correct.

Electrical Equipment

Does everything work as it should? The majority of cars have electric windows, at least in the front. Make sure they operate smoothly and quietly. Check all the lights; any dead lamps mean the owner has put the car up for sale and couldn’t be bothered to fix it. Does the car start from cold quickly and easily?

The Interior

Inside the car should be as nice as possible. Certainly there will be some wear and tear, that’s to be expected, but it should not be excessive. Look for stains or rips in the upholstery for example. A good question to ask yourself is, ‘does the interior match the mileage’? If the mileage is low but the wear and tear is bad, well, something’s not right.

Fluids

Check under the bonnet, or get a friend or family member to do it for you and check all the fluid levels. Oil, brake, clutch, power steering, coolant; they should be right on the mark. If low, maybe the car hasn’t been as well maintained as it should have. Watch out for leaks or suspicious oily patches.

Glass & Bodywork

Check for stone chips on the windscreen; these will weaken the glass structure. Look at the gaps around doors, boot and bonnet. Are they too tight tolerances with close fit? Or are there gaps, for example, is there more of a gap on one side of the bonnet than the other? It’s a good idea to check under the boot carpet or flooring. The metal should be smooth. If there are any strange ripples, this and panel gaps as above could indicate previous accident damage.

In Other Words…

The car should look as it should: Clean, tidy and well presented with, as mentioned, a full service history. Buying from a recognised dealer or an established professional garage should be fine. A good vendor will put the car through a rigorous check list before advertising for sale.

Buying privately is perhaps more of a lottery. By and large it should be cheaper but, for peace of mind, it’s best to have a good knowledge of cars and what to look for (as above) or better still take someone with expert knowledge with you and that’s not, by the way, a favoured old uncle who ‘knows a bit about cars’. Buying used cars is fine provided due care and attention is taken.

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