You can get a fantastic used car, either from a registered dealer or with a private purchase. However,if the car has a fault, it should be the dealer’s responsibility to repair, not yours, so do some research checks or you could waste a lot of money
Here is a guide to help you:
Get an idea of the value of an equivalent car on the market first before you rush in and pay too much. Check out car magazine guides and online comparisons.
A test drive is a good idea but are you insured? You will need to be insured to drive another person’s car with owner permission. Driving Other Cars(DOC) should be written on your policy. Drive in various areas, such as town, motorway, residential areas noting gears, steering, brakes and acceleration, and listen for signs of malfunction.
Ask if you can see the car at the home of the seller so you can ascertain address details, and go in daylight when scratches and other defects will be more easily seen. Check under the bonnet and beneath the car. Look for signs of rust or cover up patches and any sign the cart has been involved in an accident or badly maintained.
Every car should have a valid, modern red V5C registration certificate. Insist on seeing this and study the registered keeper and all previous keeper details for authenticity.
Where two cars have been involved in a smash, they may have been illegally welded together, known as ‘cut and shut’. To spot this, pull up the carpets and look for signs of welding and mismatch of paintwork colours.
Has the car got a history of service from a reputed dealer? Does it have a record of MOT passes? Does the seller appear at ease with the car specifications, mileage and upkeep? If you are bothered by any negatives on these then you may be looking at a stolen car.
Check the records of the car. Is there any outstanding debt on the car, has it been stolen and what does the manual say about regular servicing? You can go through a vehicle history checking company like HPI and for £20 it isn’t much to pay if it gives you peace of mind.
Each cart has a specific Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). You will most often find this under the bonnet, on the bottom of the windscreen orunder the carpet by the driver’s seat,stamped into the framework. Check it is a match to the VIN stated in the V5C certificate of registration.
Locking should match on all the windows or it could indicate a previous forced entry and change of locks. Check all windows, including sun roof open and close properly.
The milometer may have been altered so check the mileage doesn’t appear unnaturally low for the age of the car. Tampering is known as ‘clocking’ and is used to increase estimated value.
Study the tyres and in particular the tread depth and any damage on the sides. Look for uneven wear and tear and subsequent poor alignment.