Simple checks before buying a used car

Whether you are looking for your first car or a second family car, a great way to save money is to buy a used car. The used car market continues to grow each year, and with the advancements, in technology, a 5-year or used car is should still be in perfect working order and have years left of untroubled driving. Just make sure to purchase a car extended warranty to keep you covered in case a part breaks or suddenly stops working.

You can now easily find a used car with Bluetooth, Apple Play connection, Satellite Navigation, Air Conditioning and so much more as all these have quickly become staples rather than optional extras.

Simple checks you must complete before buying a used car

With a few clicks online, you have access to thousands of car deals, but to help you separate the good from the ‘too good to be true’ we have created this little guide for you.

What car do I need?

Maybe you have just passed your test and you are excited about buying a car or you have got a new job and need another car so both you and your partner can get to work. You have ideas flying around your head, including the type of car you want and what tech you want it to have.

We know it can be hard, but try to think about what you need, rather than what you want. Sometimes the car you think you want, it not right for what you need. Therefore, our first tip would be to get yourself a checklist and split it into different sections. From essential, must-have, requirements to simple wants. This will help you in the decision-making process and help stop you making the wrong, costly, choice in the long run.

When creating this list, try to think of activities you like to do, or what you find annoying about your current car. Is the boot space big enough? Can you sync and charge your phone? How much does it cost to run or tax? All these types of questions will help you create your list of requirements.

Research Potential Cars

Before you go a view or test drive a car, they are a few steps you can take to help you make informed decisions. Firstly, we would also advise speaking with the seller on the phone and gathering as much information as you can about the car, which is not already placed on the advert. In some cases, sellers miss small details from the advert due to character limits. In most cases, this can be simple things like the current mileage, MOT due dates, as well as asking if the car has anything off your checklist which is not shown on the advert.

Some people call this conversation the seller test. As this will give you an indication on how well the seller knows and has looked after the vehicle.

Complete a History Check

It is important to check the basic information that the seller has provided to make the important details are correct and they are not hiding anything significant. With an easy to use instant online Car Reg Check, you can obtain the complete history of a vehicle.

These types of checks will show you major decision-making factors such as if the car has outstanding finance, has been written off, or even stolen. This type of report checks over 30 key points and removes a lot of the stress of buying a used car. This type of check is great in the current climate and lockdown limitations, as you can do this from the safety of your own home.

Check Online Valuations

Although pretty obvious, not a lot of people do this properly. There are loads of online tools that you can use like Auto trader and Parkers and many insurers have them too. Use a couple and get an idea of what the price range is for the car you are going to see and how much changes to the mileage and age alter the valuation.

When comparing the costs of a used car, make sure you compare similar vehicles. By this, we mean cars with similar mileage, age, and optional extras. A car with over 100,000 miles should be a lot cheaper than a car with 15,000.

If you desperately need satellite navigation make sure you are only comparing the price of cars that have this. Once you understand the valuation of the car you want, you will also find it easier to negotiate.

Car Viewings

As a rule of thumb, choose when to view thecar based on location, timing and weather.

Location. Always try to view the vehicle at the home of the seller. It would highlight potential issues if the seller was not comfortable with this process, as this may mean they have something to hide. The address that the car is registered to should match the address of the viewing.

Timing. Again, this may seem obvious to most but always view a car during the day. You will not be able to see the car properly in the dark, and you can easily miss blemishes, scratches, and rust.

Weather. Similar to the amount of light, when viewing a car, try to make sure this is a good weather day. Simple raindrops can hide blemishes, dints and scratches.

Inspect the Vehicle

Whilst checking over the paintwork for scratches and dints, also check the panel gaps. If these are not uniform this could be a sign that the car has been in an accident. As well as checking the paintwork and outside of the car for blemishes, always ensure you don’t neglect inspecting inside. Look at the center console, door cards, seats and even look under any mats for wear and tears. In addition to this test as much as the electrical buttons as you can see. From opening windows and sunroofs to the radio and any touch screens. One thing people do tend to miss is checking the manual key to open and lock the car!

Test Drive

If you only take one tip away from this article, it would be to ensure you are insured to drive any vehicle you are looking to buy before you visit or take a test drive.

We would recommend a test drive of around 30 minutes. This should give you plenty of time to test the car on different road surfaces and speeds. Whilst driving listen for any unusual noises the car makes, and to help you listen never listen to the radio whilst on a test drive. The test drive will also give you chance to complete more inspections which you could not do by just looking at the vehicle. Is the car comfortable to drive? What is power like? Does it stutter? How is the steering? Does it drive straight or veer off to one side?


Not everybody is a natural negotiator. By completing these steps you will be in a good bargaining position. You can use the knowledge gained from your own valuation research as well as any defects found whilst looking over the vehicle to try to reduce the price of the car. In most cases, the seller does list the car a little higher to allow for this conversation.

One tip I have learned is ‘don’t fill the silence’. Sometimes after you have offered a price the seller will be thinking about it, don’t fill the silence with a higher offer. Give them time to think and respond.

Don’t forget the power is mostly in your hands, you can always walk away if the deal is not right or if you have seen some thigs you are not happy with whilst inspecting the vehicle.

If you’ve already got a car and need to get rid of it before you get your shiny new motor, the two easiest options are part exchanging and scrapping it. Scrapping cars is an eco friendly way of getting rid of old cars that are past their best years, look up the Scrap Car Network for information on scrapping a car. Good luck with your car hunting!