An Essential Guide to Buying a Used Car

| 01 October 2022

A reliable vehicle is one of the most important investments many of us will make. It can be a daunting prospect. Financefinity’s expert, Luke Chambers, offers some great advice to steer you in the right direction when making your choice.

There are many pitfalls to avoid when purchasing a used car. You can avoid these if you follow some sound advice from someone (me!) who has first hand experience of this industry.

Buy from a reputable garage/dealer!

It is a huge gamble purchasing a used vehicle from a private seller as you have little, or no comeback should you drive away and encounter any problems – there is no guarantee! You may think you can get a better deal privately, but it can be a hideous mistake. Buying through a reputable dealer gives you peace of mind in terms of a warranty, (typically 6-12 months), and you can extend this with the dealer in many cases.

Check out the service history

This will show a record of maintenance on the vehicle and all paperwork must be stamped by the dealer for authenticity – anyone can write in the document, so an official stamp is important to verify the history.

Look at MOT record

When is the next MOT due? Try to negotiate 12 months to again give you peace of mind for the coming 12-month period. Are there any advisories? You do not want to be taking on any potential costs/problems.

How many owners has the vehicle had?

1 previous owner – great, 2 or 3 – maximum, 4 or more – forget it and choose a different vehicle!

Have a careful look at the general condition of the car

The tyre depth should be well above 3mm. This is always negotiable so aim to get 4 new tyres on the vehicle if possible.

Scrutinise the bodywork for any rust spots or paint bubbling which could prove problematic for you.

Organise a test drive

Ideally, you need to test drive the vehicle for at least 10-20 minutes checking key factors like wheel alignment/ pull, any worrying sounds, gear transitions and the general ‘feel’ of the vehicle. Include a spell on a motorway experiencing the drive at up to 70 miles an hour.

Consider getting a vehicle health check done

The AA and the RAC offer a first-class health check service from as little as £10 – a small extra cost. Can you afford NOT to do this? It could prove expensive if you don’t do it!

‘The sweet spot’

Buying a used car under 3 years old is sometimes referred to as the ‘sweet spot’ for purchase. A 2-year-old vehicle can have full warranty for at least a year, (variable according to manufacturer). A full-service history is mandatory, or the warranty will be void. There are other benefits buying a young used car of this nature as it should be nicely ‘run in’.

There are many considerations when buying a used vehicle and it is imperative to do your research. Don’t rush in where angels fear to tread! The points raised here are crucial to safeguard you as you hunt for the perfect vehicle for you.

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