There can be numerous pitfalls when buying a used car, but with careful planning and attentive viewing, you can find some fantastic bargains which will prove to be reliable and enjoyable to own. The tips below should hopefully make buying a used car a pain-free experience!
Plan Ahead: When viewing cars, it can be difficult not to buy the first car you see. Use your head instead of your heart. Make a shortlist of several cars in a similar price range that meets your requirements. View and test drive them all before making a final decision. This way you can compare them against each other, making sure you get the most car for your money. If you have a bad gut feeling about a car, walk away.
History: Although choosing a car without a service history can sometimes get you a bargain, it can also get you expensive repair bills down the line. Try and find a car with an extensive service history, as this will indicate that the car has been well looked after and repaired whenever needed. This should make it reliable in the long run.
Consumables: There are several parts of the car which regularly need replacing. These include tires, brake pads, brake discs, and even cambelts. Make sure to gauge the condition of the tires. If they’re low, they can be expensive to replace; make sure to use this when haggling on the final price. Check the conditions of the brake discs; if the pads look low, make sure to mention it. Replacing the brakes can again be expensive. If the is high mileage, check when the cambelt was last replaced; do they have proof? A cambelt failure can result in the broken engine that costs thousands to repair.
Bodywork: Make sure to check the bodywork thoroughly. If there is any overspray or mismatched colors, this can often indicate that the car has been in an accident. Check that all the panels line up correctly and uniformly. Check the common areas for rust; the sills underneath the doors and by the jacking points are a common spot for rust to appear. Around the wheel arches is also worth checking thoroughly for signs of corrosion. These can be expensive to repair, so walk away if the rust looks extensive.
Engine: When test driving the car, listen for any strange noises from the engine compartment. If the engine sounds too loud or feels weak, it could be hinting at a potentially expensive problem. If the car is misfiring or struggling to accelerate, it could have expensive electrical problems. This can be an excellent bargaining tool if you are or know an experienced mechanic, but for the majority of buyers, it isn’t a wise idea to buy a car which needs repairs.
When purchasing a car, remember to vigilant; don’t ignore your gut feelings about a vehicle, and be strict about following your head instead of your heart. Do the appropriate license checks beforehand, and always take the car for a test drive. View the car in daylight (when it isn’t raining) so you can see any potential bodywork defects.