Queens Park Garage’s Top Tips for Buying a Used Car
Whether it’s your first car or you prefer to buy second hand, a few simple tips from our Queens Park Garage team should help avoid some of the common pitfalls many buyers face.
Who to Buy Your Car From
There are several choices here:
- The first is to buy from a second-hand car dealer. You may be paying a little extra because you’re purchasing from a business but, if they have a good reputation, you should expect a car that fits your needs and is fit to drive.
- Buying privately can also be an option. If you’re not that knowledgeable, one tip is to take a mechanic with you who knows their way around a car
- Buying from an auction may mean a good deal but you could have less control over the quality of the vehicle. The big problem is there’s no cooling off period so if you change your mind there’s nothing you can do.
- Online buying is becoming increasingly common and gives you a wider geographic scope. Always make sure you check the car out in person, however.
Physical Car Checks
As we’ve already said, if you don’t know what you’re looking at, take someone with you who does. It should save you a lot of heart-ache later on. Things to check include:
- Tyres: These should have a minimum of 1.6mm tread but ideally look for 3mm. If you are buying a premium car, make sure you’re getting premium tyres and not cheap replacements.
- Dents and Dings: Every car picks them up after a period of time. Small ones shouldn’t be too much of a problem as long as the price is right and they can be easily repaired.
- Panel Gaps: If you are checking the bodywork and find significant gaps in the panels it could be a sign that the vehicle has been badly repaired following an accident.
- Fluid Levels: Check things like the oil. If this is low, it could also be a sign that the car has been badly maintained which means you may have problems when you get it home.
- Electrics: Check everything from the windshield wipers to the lights and radio to make sure these are all working properly.
- Engine Warning Lights: check to make sure there are no engine warning lights this could mean complicated and expensive repair work is required.
Look for other signs of wear and tear such as cracks in the windows or damage to the upholstery. Don’t forget to take a look at the spare tyre either. Check for any other signs of damage.
The V5C Check
This is pretty important and includes the document registration and log book for the car.
Make sure the model matches the information on the V5C and check the vehicle identification number (usually on the outside of the vehicle on the lower part of the windscreen). This should prove that you are buying a kosher vehicle.
If you are buying from a private individual, make sure their name and address matches with the V5C details. One thing to look out for is if the car has had a lot of previous owners – it could be a sign that something is wrong with it.
You can also check with organisations such as the RAC or AA for more details concerning the car including whether there is any outstanding finance although this type of check will usually cost.
Test Driving the Car
You will undoubtedly judge the car for how easy it is to drive and whether you like it or not but also pay special attention to the clutch, whether the gears select easily, how the engine sounds and how well the brakes work.
Don’t be shy about carrying out an emergency stop if it is safe to do so to check the braking integrity. Always make sure you check the engine temperature is reading normal after you have finished your test drive.
Finally, always give yourself a cooling off period where you can sit down and think about buying and the pros and cons of any particular car. It’s better to lose out to another buyer than end up with a car that causes you problems.