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8 Things to Look Out for When Buying a Second Hand Car

2ndhand Buying a second-hand car can be incredibly stressful and daunting task. There are so many things to consider, like the vehicle's make, what type of engine it has, has it been serviced etc. This article will give you eight simple tips that will help you find your perfect second-hand car!

1. Check the car's history

If it has been in an accident or had major repairs, you should consider other vehicles. A car's history is significant. You'll need to use a website like Hpi check, which will tell you what the vehicle has been through in its lifetime. If it has had major repairs or an accident, I would advise against buying this type of car as these sorts of things can come back and bite you later on down the line. Depending on the damage that was reported, you may want to walk away from the sale.

What is HPI check?

Hpi Check provides a free and instant vehicle history report for any UK registered car. You can see if there are outstanding finance agreements against this vehicle that may affect your decision to buy - be sure not to miss these crucial details! If you're considering buying a second-hand car, I would advise that you make sure that this service is one of your first ports of call.

2. Check the cars service history

This is a must, as a well-maintained car will run smoother and be more fuel-efficient. A car with an up-to-date service history will also typically have fewer faults than one that has been poorly serviced due to neglect or poor workmanship.

If you're considering buying a second-hand car, I would advise that you make sure that this service is one of your first ports of call.

What does the mileage mean?
The condition can sometimes be revealed by how many miles the vehicle has done - if it's got over 75,000 on the clock (or 100,000 in some cases), then there may well be signs of wear and tear, which might not present themselves when first inspected.

3. Inspect the engine, tires, brakes, and other parts of the vehicle

So you have checked the history, it's time to see the car, the first thing is to check the mechanics of the car. Having a look at the engine, brakes and tires are good ways to make sure that there is nothing wrong with these parts of the car.

Many people overlook this step when buying a car, but it's important not to cut corners on safety features. The brake pads should be intact and firm; they shouldn't have any exposed metal or signs of damage such as cracking/chipping or significant wear (a sign you need new ones). The same goes for tyres - check tread depth and balance between front-back pairs.

It is worth looking into other areas that could give problems later down the line, such as wipers which can lose efficiency from lack of use over time to checking the bulbs.

Also, check the engine because this is the most expensive part of any car to fix if something goes wrong. Make sure there are no oils leaks to engine noise out of the ordinary, check the auxiliary belts for signs of wear, and finally look at the exhaust for signs of smoke.

The battery should also be checked - there shouldn't be any acid leakage.

I will go in more detail later, there are couple places you will be buying a car either private or from a car dealer, the advantage from buying from a used car dealer is they should be carrying out a PDI (Pre Delivery Inspection) which is where a car garage will check over the car.

4. How does the car perform on startup?

The car should start smoothly and quietly.
If the engine is running roughly or smokes heavily on startup, this may indicate a problem with the engine - an expensive one to fix!

5. Check all the interior switches and knobs

All interior switches and knobs should work as they would on a newer car, without any sticky or sluggish movement. Any lights coming from the dashboard are also expected to be in working order.

If there is anything that looks out-of-place, you may want to consider waiting until another day when it's less busy so that your mechanic can evaluate whether equipment replacement might be necessary.

6. Look out for rust around the car.

Places to check are door frames, wheel arches and undercarriage - this could be indicative of corrosion elsewhere. So if you see rust, then another red flag.

7. Test driving the car if possible before you buy it

This is the most critical step of all (although during some lockdowns this has not been allowed). To make sure you're getting a good deal, test drive it before committing to buy anything.

You should also consider how well the car drives on different types of terrain and surfaces - this might be indicative that something else needs fixing!

Even if these cars are used, they can still turn out great, like pre-owned furniture or electronics? You may find a diamond in the rough with someone's old clunker. Happy hunting! :)

8. If possible, have a mechanic check the car over before buying

If possible, get a mechanic to check the vehicle over before buying. A qualified person will spot any potential issues that may arise down the line, so it's worth taking a little time and money on this step.

If possible, have them come along for a test drive too - it won't cost much more than a few quid but can save yourself hundreds/thousands later when things go wrong (plus, it is good to know about these problems early).

This isn't always possible, though, especially if there are already people interested in looking at a particular vehicle that might sell fast.

Bonus Tip. Ask if there is a warranty on the car (if so, what does it cover?)

If the car is from a car dealer in the UK, it will come with a warranty. It is essential to find out about the warranty. What does it cover, and how long is the warranty valid for?.

Also buying a car from a reputable car dealership will help with peace of mind that the car is in good working order.

A reputable dealership will also be able to sort out a warranty for you, so ensure you ask about this beforehand. This way your new purchase won't break down on the drive home and leave you without cover! So many benefits to going to a local used car dealer, the car would already been PDI and checked, like Sovereign Motor Engineers who are a used car dealer in Tonbridge, who have a customer first approach to anything

The choice here really depends on how much faith you have in them - a good second-hand car dealer can offer better warranties but are more expensive. Buying privately means it may cost less initially as no dealer fees apply, but buyer beware: You'll need to carry out all the checks yourself because private sellers don't usually do this themselves.

Summary: Buying a second-hand car is daunting, but with these tips and the right mindset, you can make sure that this purchase goes smoothly. With all of the pitfalls out there waiting to trip up your purchase, it's important not to be discouraged by them—just use our advice as guidelines for making an informed decision when buying a used vehicle!


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© by Darren Spree 2021