Best ways to approach a second-hand car purchase…
Compared to a brand-new car, purchasing a used vehicle can save you a wad of cash.
Whether you’re looking for a cheap little run-around or want to find your dream car, there is certainly plenty of choice on the second-hand market!
However, when it comes to buying a used car, it can be difficult to tell whether you’re really getting a good deal.
Dealing with pushy salespeople, problem cover-ups and murky histories aren’t uncommon when looking for the perfect used car.
So, we’ve put together a checklist of handy tips to help you make sure that you won’t get met with any nasty surprises behind the wheel.
Check the Vehicle History
If you are seriously interested in purchasing a vehicle, it’s a good idea to pay for a history check.
For a small fee, you will be able to discover whether the car has been in a collision in the past, any damage that it has sustained, and whether it has ever been reported as stolen.
Take a Test Drive
It’s important to test drive any car that you are considering purchasing.
If you are planning to buy a used car from a dealership, then their insurance will most likely cover you for the duration of the test drive.
If you’re buying privately, then you might need to arrange cover yourself.
If you currently have car insurance for your own vehicle, your provider will be able to arrange this for you.
On the other hand, if you’re purchasing your first car, this could prove a little more difficult.
If you’re struggling to get insurance for your test drive, you might want to enlist the help of somebody with more driving experience who you trust.
They can take the car for a test drive on your behalf, and let you know what they think.
What to Look For
Whilst you’re test driving the car, it’s important to pay more attention to it than you normally would when behind the wheel.
Wherever possible, take the car up to the maximum speed limit; if you get a chance to take it for a spin on the motorway, this is a good idea as it will give you a better idea of how the car performs at high speeds.
You should also pay great attention to the mechanics of the car; for example, how do the pedals feel when you press them?
If it has a manual transmission, the clutch should not feel too heavy or too light, whilst the accelerator pedal should be responsive when you press it.
Testing the Brakes
The brakes are perhaps the most important part of your car; without them, you’d be unable to stop!
While test driving your potential new car, you should always make sure to test the brakes before making any decisions.
The best way to do this is to drive to a clear road or car park and carry out an emergency stop after checking that it is safe to do so.
When you press down on the brake pedal sharply, it should respond immediately and the car should come to a standstill.
You should also be aware of any noises that the brakes make; the best way to do this is to simply roll down the window and listen out whilst braking.
Remember; squeaking brakes do not always signify a problem.
In many cases this simply means that the brakes are new, which is actually a good thing!
Don’t forget to check that the parking brake secures easily, too.
Out of the Car
Whilst it’s important to take a test drive, you will also want to check the car whilst it is parked to make sure that there’s nothing visibly wrong with it.
If you are purchasing an older car, then you can usually expect some scuffs and scratches; however, be very careful if you find any dents or bumps as these can weaken the bodywork of your car and increase your risk in the event of a road accident.
Some of the main things to check for include rust, tyre tread depth, lights, and doors.
Visible rust on the car will be apparent straightaway, however, be careful – hidden rust under the foot wells, beneath the car and on the inside of the doors is not always as easy to spot.
When it comes to tyres, you should ensure that they are at the right tread depth (around 1.6mm minimum).
However, if they are not and you still want the car, you can always visit Tyre Busters for an upgrade!
Under the Bonnet
Lastly, you should always check the engine to make sure that everything is present and correct.
If you have little prior knowledge of cars, then it’s a good idea to take somebody along who is more knowledgeable, such as a mechanic.
However, some simple things that you can check by yourself are the oil and water levels.
Although these are easy to refill on your own, if you’re planning to drive the car home then you’ll want to make sure that they are full.
To check the oil levels, simply pull out the dipstick and check that the oil is over the minimum line.
In some newer cars such as the BMW 1 Series, you can check this by using the in-built car computer system.
You may also want to look at pictures of engines for the make and model of car you’re looking at; this will help you better understand where everything should be and how it should look.
Good luck with your search for the perfect used car!