Buying used cars can be a risky business at the best of times, so aside from kicking the four tyres and bouncing the bonnet, what other things should you look out for?
To start with, be certain that you have budgeted properly for the car in the first place. Don’t forget all those added extras like tax, insurance and possible repair works. Check out prices on a used car comparison website and make sure you’re not paying over the odds.
Don’t be afraid to ask about the car’s service history and check its documentation is correct. Always take a used car for a spin, to get a feel for how it handles. Test the brakes, reverse gear and inspect the lights to make sure they all work.
Give the car a good once over in good light, and make a point of checking the surface for any signs of rust or blistering of the paint. Get on your hands and knees, have a look underneath, check the sills, the wheel arches and bumpers. Look over the bodywork for poorly completed repair work, odd coloured panels or filler. Stains are definitely worth looking out for, as they are likely signs of leaks.
Fire up the engine, listen for any strange noises; check the oil light, the oil on the dipstick and the coolant reservoir. The colour of the fluids can give you an indication of problems to come. See how the transmission works, check that the gears change smoothly and check for grey or black exhaust fumes.
Take your time looking over the car; after all, in a few minutes it could be yours. You don’t want the first person you tell about it to be a garage mechanic when it breaks down.
And most importantly, check the car details and history such as MOT date, mileage registrations, whether it’s been in an accident etc. through a site such as Carcheck.