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What to check when buying a used car?

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What to check when buying a used car? 

If you’re planning on buying a used car, there are certain things that you need to check before moving forward, which is why we have created this comprehensive guide.

Looking to buy a used car?

We’ll cover everything you need to know, from the questions you need to ask a seller, what mechanical checks you need to make, what to look out for and everything else under the hood.

There is more to consider than you might think, as there are several things which you need to do before moving forward with buying new wheels.

Things to ask when buying a used car

No matter who or where you are buying a used car from, you need to ask the right questions to ensure you are making the correct decision.

It’s also important to ask the right questions to protect yourself from some people out there who may be trying to rip you off.

Here are things to ask when buying a used car.

How old is the car?

Asking about the age of a vehicle seems redundant if there is a number plate which states the fact. However, some owners will swap number plates for personalised ones, so it is always worth asking.

It is also an excellent way to find out if the person you are buying from, is the original owner.

This is useful information to know as another owner may not have looked after it as well as the one you are buying from, meaning there may be hidden problems which are yet to be discovered.

Has the car been in any accidents?

It may seem far-fetched that an owner would not know whether their vehicle had been in a crash before, but it does happen. This is because some sellers will have their car repaired if it has been in an accident, before selling it to a buyer.

If the new buyer then decides to sell it again, and you are the buyer, you’ll have no idea that the car has been in an accident.

Even though a vehicle may perform well and there are no apparent faults, an accident can still cause problems like squeaking and engine problems which can occur when the metal has been manipulated out of shape.

If it has been in an incident, it will need a much closer examination to ensure that there are no hidden problems.

How many miles are on the clock?

This is another obvious question to ask, but it can be one which you do pose if the vehicle looks new.

No matter what kind of condition it’s in or how new it looks, make sure to ask how many miles are on the clock, as it may reveal it has been driven much more than you think.

What parts have been replaced?

This is a fundamental question to ask, as the answers will reveal how safe the car is to drive as well as how likely it is to need new parts.

When it comes to parts, the bottom line is that they are always in the process of being worn down.

As there is so much heat and friction generated between parts, they will inevitably become damaged, especially if it has been driven in a style which is terrible for the parts.

Knowing how long ago the brakes were replaced, will give you an idea of how much longer they have to last.

Have any modifications have been made?

If you buy a vehicle with a modification and you don’t know about it, you could find yourself in trouble with the police.

Modifications are a complex area as some are legal and some are not.

For example, you are allowed to have tinted windows but you aren’t allowed to have them too dark.

This is an obvious modification which you will be able to spot, but there is a huge number of modifications which owners make and aren’t clear to the eye.

That is why it is critical that you ask the seller if the vehicle you are looking at has had any modifications made.

When was the MOT completed?

The last thing you want to have to do is pay for a MOT after a couple of weeks of buying a used car.

It’s also important to know that the vehicle has had an inspection and it is safe to drive, so make sure to question the date of the MOT.

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What to look out for when buying a car

Mechanical checks

Here is a list of the most important mechanical checks to make before you buy a car.

If you don’t know the first thing about car maintenance, you can always ask a mechanic to carry out a pre-purchase car inspection which will help you discover any potential problems.

Body work

Body work is an easy thing to check on a car before you buy it, however, you still need to ask whether it has been modified.

Body work can count as anything from adding a fresh layer of paint, to changing entire door panels.

If anything has been changed on the body, you need to know as it may have an impact on the cost of insuring the vehicle.


If you buy a used car, it’s important that it is comfortable to drive and you have a pleasant experience every time you start the engine.

That is why you need to ask how long it was since the second-hand car you are looking to purchase, had an aircon regas.

Every car should have one every two years, because otherwise, a bad smell may fill the interior every time the aircon is switched on, something you’ll hate if you end up buying it.


The V5C, stamp service book or service sheet, service receipts, MOT paperwork, and relevant user manuals should all be presented to you if you move forward with the purchase of a used car.


Published: Monday 24, Jun, 2019
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