How to Check a Used Car before you Buy

If you are thinking about buying a used car then this is a fantastic way for you to save money. You can save thousands by doing this, not to mention that you also have the option of buying what would normally be an expensive car, at a very affordable price. If you aren’t quite sure if the car that you are buying is right for you, then here are some top checks that you should always do when you buy a used car for the very first time.


You need to get down on your knees and check the tyres, to begin with. Think about it, how much tread do they have? It is the legal minimum to have 1.6mm. If they are below this then you need to take into account the cost of getting them changed. If you are buying a sports car, or even an expensive car in general then you will certainly want to make sure that you are investing in premium tyres. If you are buying a budget vehicle on the other hand, then you need to make sure that you are buying budget tyres. Of course, if the tyres do obviously need changing then you may be able to get some money knocked off the car when purchasing it. Little things like this can really help you to get a good deal, and it may even mean that you save money on repairs.


How is the bodywork on the car? Are there obvious signs of kerbing on the wheels? It is so important that you are able to inspect the car in broad daylight. Rain can hide a lot on a car, and so can darkness. If you work long hours, then wait until the weekend to take a look at the car. This will make it much easier for you to get an idea of what you are buying and it will also help you to make a good decision based on what you can see. If you do see some dents and some small scratches, then you should note that these can easily be fixed. You can however use it as a negotiation point. When you do this, you can get some money knocked off the total price of the car and you can also really save yourself a ton of stress as well.

Panel Gaps

When you are looking over the bodywork for your car, it’s so important that you check the gaps between the panels. Any large gaps could be a sign that the car has not been repaired properly after a crash. You should also make sure that there aren’t any major colour differences. If there are then this could be a sign that the car has been repaired badly, or that not much effort has been put in by the owner to keep it looking great. If this is the case then there could be other issues that you might not be aware of, so it is important that you keep this in consideration when the time does come for you to get started.


Open the bonnet up and look at all of the levels. You should be checking the power steering fluid, the brakes and even the oil. If they are all low then this could be a sign of a leak or it could even be that the car hasn’t been maintained properly. If this is the case then you may want to factor that repair in consideration. When you are there, check for leaks underneath the bonnet. If the owner has moved the car so that you can get a better look, then ask to see the original location of where it was stored. This way you can look out to see if there are any oil spots or leak stains that would not normally be obvious.

Oil Caps

You may have already checked the oil level, and that’s great, but you also need to look under the oil cap as well. When you do this, you need to look out for a white mayonnaise substance. If you do see something like this then there is a high chance that it has been caused by condensation. There is also a chance that it has been caused by coolant that has mixed with oil. If this is the case then the head gasket will have probably failed. This is quite a large repair, and if this is the case then you need to factor in the cost of this or it could end up hindering your investment.


It’s so important that you try everything. Wind the windows up and down, turn the radio on and even test the air conditioning. Faults can often be a simple repair, but it could be the start of a huge range of problems. You can even use it to negotiate a price as well so do keep this in mind.


Think about it, are there any chips in the windscreen? If so, these could turn into cracks and this could lead you to replacing the whole thing. If they are in the driver’s eye-line then this could make you fail your MOT. At this point, you should also check the front and even the rear lights. Chips, cracks and fogging should be noted. You may think that these repairs are small and this may be the case, but one speed bump could cause that small crack to become way bigger in the space of a few seconds. If this is the case then you have an even bigger repair on your hands and this could cost you way more than you first anticipated.


It’s so important that you don’t overlook the interior of your car. Think about it, are there any stains? Tears in the seats? Does it smell alright? Sure, smells can be off-putting to say the least, and they can also be very hard to get rid of as well. This is especially the case if someone has been smoking in the car. Of course, it is very easy for you to hire someone to clean the upholstery for you and this can restore a lot of the car’s interior look. If the car has been cleaned already however then the stains that are left over may never come out. If this is true, then you may need to pay to get it reupholstered. This can cost more than you’d think, so you need to weigh up your options to find out if it is worth it.


Should the car come with any kind of spare wheel? If so then it helps to check the condition of it.

If it is in poor condition or if it is completely unusable then the cost of buying a new one should be added to the cost of the car. Some cars will come with a jack and all the equipment you need to make the repair as well. If the car does not come with this then it’s worth looking up to see if it ever did. It may be that the user is withholding it for their next car, and although there is nothing wrong with this, it can make it problematic if you ever break down at the side of the road.

Accident Damage

The car may have had an accident in the past and this is completely normal. If there is a gap between the panels however then this could signify a poor repair. If you see something that doesn’t look quite right, then it may be because there is genuinely something wrong. Don’t ignore your instincts when you are looking at a used car. It also helps to look out for ripples in the bodywork as well as this could also suggest that filler has been used. This is a cheap way of getting around doing the repair itself. If you want to check this then you can use a magnet to find out. Filler is not magnetic at all, so it is a really fast way for you to find out if the car you are buying has been treated well or not. If you are buying a high-end car or even a sports car then it may have a specific kind of trim. If this is the case, then ask if it is missing. The more you can understand the car you are buying, the better it will be for you in the future. It will also make it much easier for you to make a good investment as well. Of course, if you have any questions then the owner should be more than happy to answer them for you. If they are not or if they appear to be evading the question then you need to ditch the car as soon as you possibly can. It’s not worth the investment, regardless of the type of deal you think you are getting so it is important that you take this into consideration when making your decision.


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