Whether you are investing in a brand-new car or a used one, a new set of wheels is always exciting.
However, amidst all the excitement, you can often overlook some of the essential things you need to get the best deal. This is especially true if you are planning to buy a used car, as there can be potential issues with the engine, the car’s body parts, and more.
This can often lead to a range of different issues. For instance, if you invest in a used car with faulty parts, you may need to deal with sky-high repair costs. To help you avoid this, we have compiled a list of 6 essentials you must verify before buying a used car.
Let’s take a look!
1. Important Documents
Before you make the purchase, verify all the necessary documents for the car. In the UK, every car comes with a logbook, known as the V5C. This logbook has important information about the car’s registration with the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency).
Make sure that the owner’s details on the front page of the logbook match with the details the seller provides you. Besides this, if the car is still under a warranty period, check the warranty card to verify if the car has been maintained according to the manufacturer’s schedule.
Every registered car has an MOT history available online on the government website. All you require is the car’s registration number to track down the details. This helps you see if the car has passed its mandatory safety tests in the past.
Often, sellers maintain physical records of MOT tests and receipts for any repairs done in the past. These are important because they help you understand if the car was maintained properly. When investing in a used car, it is best to ask for these documents and study them carefully.
When it comes to a used car, it is common to consider the mileage of the car, or how far it has been driven, as the most important factor. However, this may not be the best approach as high mileage doesn’t necessarily reflect on overall performance. This is especially true if the car has been well-maintained and has a good service history.
However, you need to be extra careful to ensure that the mileage on the car matches the advertised value. Additionally, check if the mileage corresponds with the age of the car and its overall condition. There might be a chance that the mileage has been tampered with to make it seem lower than it is.
Inspecting the outer body or shell of the car is important to ensure that it matches the seller’s description. However, you should also be mindful of the fact that used cars don’t always come with a perfect paint job or body. Some common imperfections can include small chips from stones, minor scratches, or little dents.
Furthermore, keep an eye out for rusty spots on the car, especially if it’s a common issue for that particular car model. If the seller has mentioned the rust in the advertisement, it should be there. If you cannot spot it, you can use it as a reason to negotiate a lower price for the car.
When a car is actively used, its engines are likely good at concealing potential issues. These issues can range from strange noises to reduced performance. On the other hand, when a car has not been used in a while, the engine starts cooling and emphasizes these issues. This is why, when investing in a used car, it’s best to check if it has been idle for some time.
When you switch on the engine, listen for any strange noises, such as rattling or gurgling sounds. These sounds might indicate that there’s something wrong with the engine. If you arrive at the dealership, and the engine is already warm, you may be unable to identify any hidden problems. It would be best for you to reschedule and come back once the engine is cool.
Do a quick scan of the interior of the car to check the condition of the seats and upholstery, and check whether the fabric or leather is intact and not torn or worn anywhere. Sometimes, leather seats can crease or sag over time, but, often, dealers replace them with new ones to bid a higher selling price. On the other hand, if you notice the seats have not been replaced or are in very bad condition, you can negotiate with the dealer to lower the price.
In addition to the seats, verify if all the buttons are working properly by pressing them. This includes checking if the heating and cooling are functioning as they should and if all the lights, such as the dome and reading lights, are working. Be thorough in checking everything carefully to help you make the best decision.
7. Tires and Brakes
When checking the tires of a used car, you need to verify that the tread depth is above the minimum legal limit, which is 1.6mm. You can easily measure it by using a tread depth gauge, which you get around five pounds. If they are below this limit, you must replace your old tires with new ones, as soon as possible. Or perhaps if you’re purchasing the car from a garage, you can ask them to do it for free.
Lastly, don’t forget to check the brakes too! During a test, bringing the car to a hard stop ( of course, if it is safe and allowed by the seller) will give you an idea about the condition of the brakes.
When investing in a used car, it’s best to consider a test drive before making the final decision. This way, you will be able to check for any potential problems. Additionally, driving it for some time will give you an idea of how it functions, saving you from buying a car that is difficult to operate.
Furthermore, ensure you have the correct insurance to go through with this drive for additional security. Often, dealers offer insurance for test drives, so it’s best to confirm before setting out.