What To Look For When Buying A Second Hand Car

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Some people like to buy brand new cars and be the first owners

However, financially that is not practical for everyone and second hand cars are the only option

Knowing how to choose your next car and then actually choosing it can take hours and hours of research

Looking for a car

Knowing what make and model car you want you are half way there

The next step after finding it would be making sure when you find that car it is mechanically and structurally sound. You want to know the money you are investing in this next vehicle is not being wasted

Second hand cars have history

That might sound obvious but knowing how to look at the history of a second hand car is important. Something that may look in good condition to an untrained eye could be hiding a catalogue of problems

Checking the car

Always buy a car which has a valid MOT. A MOT check can be done for free with the DVLA here 

If a car has any finance outstanding from it’s current owner they can not sell it. Perform a HPI check here 

Look at the service book records for the vehicle. Has the car maintained it’s services and the stamps in the book look genuine. Each service stamp will have the name and possibly address and contact numbers of the garage that performed the service. If you are in any doubt call the garage that has stamped the book to make sure it exists

You should be able to cross reference the mileage on the service stamps with the mileage on the MOT checks

Check the bodywork panels of the vehicles. If one panel looks a slightly different colour to the others, there is a chance the vehicle has been in an accident and repaired. You should be made aware of this before buying the vehicle

Finally is the vehicle mechanically sound. Unless you are a trained mechanic this wont be as easy to do yourself. The AA and RAC can perform these inspections for a small charge

There are extra checks you can do for due diligence but these are the basics

You should know or have an expectation of how much a car is worth and the Parkers Guide is a great way to do that

You don’t want to be paying more than the car is worth

This guide doesn’t take into account any modifications or upgrades, it is just the basic car

Hope you find this helpful if you are looking to buy a new car

Let me know if there is anything you do when looking for a new car and any checks you make

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What To Look For When Buying A Second Hand Car


  1. Emily rixon
    11/10/2018 / 13:08

    This is so useful as ill be looking to buy my first car soon

  2. A S,Edinburgh
    17/10/2018 / 07:16

    Very good, helpful advice, thank you. It’s a good idea to list these things and tick them off methodically.

  3. Amy simpson
    31/10/2018 / 08:31

    Thanks for the tips x

  4. Priscilla Stubbs
    04/03/2019 / 11:25

    Thanks for the advice in this blog, all very helpful tips. I am hoping to buy a car for myself (it will be a second car in the family) and your advice will help me to know what to look for

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