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What To Look for When Buying a Used Car

The used car market is ready for you, and it’s time to see what it has to offer. When you’re looking for your next car, you can find great deals if you choose a second-hand car. But what do you need to be aware of when shopping for used cars? Below we go into some of the most important things to look for.


Buying a used car from a garage

If you buy your car from a garage, they often offer a warranty. This gives you peace of mind in case anything goes wrong within this period. Whilst this can slightly bump up the price of the car, it can be a great extra, especially if you’re looking to buy a more luxury used car.

Garages often do more vigorous tests on cars to make sure they are ready to sell. This is why there’s often more security with buying from a trusted garage, as and they are often very clued up on their cars.


Buying a used car online

Depending on your budget, sometimes you can find a great deal online. Places such as Autotrader often have a wide variety of makes and models, from individual sellers. If you’re looking for a more specific car, this can be a great place to look.

Just make sure that when you see the car in person, you are vigorously checking the vehicle for any visual defects which may have been left off the ad. Feel free to ask any questions which you need to, even if you feel like you have a lot.

It’s usually not a great idea to buy a used car and pay for it online before seeing it. Even if it’s through what seems like a reliable seller, you should still be cautious.


What should I check beforehand?

You’ll want to know the registration number, make and model of the vehicle and MOT test number. From here you can check these details with the DVLA, check the MOT status and see if there’s been any serious faults with the car which have resulted in recalls.

Ask to see the V5C vehicle registration certificate, which is often called the ‘logbook’. Make sure that all the details are correct, and that they align to what information you’ve been given.


Essential checks to the car

Fluid levels: You’ll want to look under the bonnet and check the essential fluids such as brake fluid, oil, and power steering fluid. Make sure there are no leaks as these can cause problems and be expensive to fix.

Dents and marks to the body: In pictures sometimes dents and marks can be hard to see, especially in low light. When you see the vehicle in person make sure to inspect the whole car for any marks which weren’t shown in the images.

What’s it like inside? Any marks to the seats could be easy to remove with upholstery cleaner, but make sure the interior is how they say it is on the ads. You’ll also want to make sure everything is in working condition, for example that the windows go up and down, or that the radio works in the car.

Windscreen: Check for any scratches or chips in the windscreen. If there is a chip in the eyeline of the driver, this is an MOT failure.

Locking wheel nut: When it comes to needing to change your tyres, you’ll most likely need the locking wheel nut key. They can be very expensive to replace if the owner has lost or broken them.

Brakes, steering and gear box: You’ll want to make sure that the brakes, steering, and gear box are in full working order. Typically, you should be able to test drive the car so you can see what it feels like.

Spare keys: Check that the seller can provide you with a spare key for the car. Cars will typically come with two keys as the spare key is super handy. Not to mention the cost of replacing or repairing a spare key. These can be highly expensive, depending on the make of your car.

Tyres and wheels: Make sure you check the tyres see what their tread depth is like. If they need to be changed soon then you’ll need to consider this within your budget. If they are below 1.6mm then they are illegal and will have to be changed before you drive the car. When inspecting the wheels, make sure there’s nothing unexpected, or untoward. You’ll be looking out for any cracks, dents, marks, or bends.

Car exhaust: Similarly with the car exhaust, you’ll want to be looking for any corrosion, cracks or breaks.

Remember that you can check the cars latest MOT to see if there were any issues previously. This will show you whether anything has been replaced, or fixed. You can double check this when looking over the car.


Take the car for a test drive

The best way to check if there’s anything wrong with the vehicle is to take a test drive. You’ll usually be able to feel if anything is wrong. For example, if the steering feels off, or the gear box is really worn. Often these are things that you won’t be able to know just by looking at the car.

You can also get used to how it feels to drive, as they often feel different make to make. Some cars have a much higher biting point than others, so it can take some adjusting to when you first drive.


How much should I pay for my new car?

This totally depends on what car you are looking for. It will also depend on the year of the car, how many miles it has done, and any additional features it has. For example, a car with higher miles will typically be a lot less expensive than a car which has barely been driven.

It’s best to search around and see what other companies or individuals are selling the same car for. Sometimes you can get a really good deal, simply because people want a change of car. You can have a look online at websites such as Autotrader because they will often say whether prices are low, high or average.


Once you buy the car…

The first thing you’ll need to do is tax the vehicle. You can either pay for the annual cost of road tax or pay monthly. If you’re paying annually, make sure to remember when it is due the following year. Now you have the vehicle logbook, you will need the green ‘new keeper’ slip.

Next, you’ll need to insure your car so that you can drive it. Make sure that you take out the correct insurance and that you provide the correct information to your insurance company.


Make sure that you have the right insurance for your car

Whilst you may have chosen your car, you now need the insurance policy to go with it. This should include all the extras you need to ensure you’re covered. Many people like opting for windscreen cover as typically this can be quite expensive to repair yourself.

Here at Carbon Insurance Brokers, we offer specialist motor insurance. We cover a variety of vehicles, including standard, executive, luxury, and high performance.

Contact us today to speak with a member of our friendly team to discuss cover. We’re here for you when you need us most.

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