Top Tips for Buying a Used Car.

A recent survey compiled by Motorcheck showed that 1 in 5 cars checked by a prospective buyer will show up a serious problem.  It could be that the car will have finance outstanding, have been previously written off, used as a taxi at one point or worse had its mileage wound back or 'clocked'.
If any of these issues show up on your Motorcheck report it's very important that you investigate it thoroughly before finalising a purchase.
If you're currently in the process of buying a used car here are some 'Top Tips' that you should bear in mind.

Top Tips

  1. Shop around - Dealers, Classifieds & UK Market
  2. Know who you're buying the car from
  3. Motorcheck it
  4. Check the service & owner history & ask for previous NCT / MOT certificates
  5. Examine the interior for signs of wear & tear
  6. Consider an independent inspection by a qualified Automotive Engineer.

Remember it’s up to the car to prove that the mileage is correct. Don’t just accept it at face value.

  • Shop around - Dealers, Classifieds & UK Market - A shortage of good quality used cars means that you will most likely have to go further to find the right car for you.
  • Know who you're buying the car from - Your rights as a consumer differ greatly depending on who you buy your car from. The consumer protection act only applies to a registered business. If buying privately be careful. There are bargains to be had but this is where the vast majority of problems exist. If buying from the UK consider purchasing an independent used car warranty from an Irish provider.
  • Motorcheck It - can check the history of UK and Irish cars and in its report will tell you if the car has been reported as stolen, written off, has finance outstanding, ever been used as a taxi or hackney or recorded as a clocked car.
  • Ensure that the vehicle has a fully documented service history. Phone the garage/s that stamped the book and verify the odometer recorded at the time the work was carried out. Check the badge in the rear windscreen for a dealer logo or sometimes you’ll find out who has worked on the car by looking a the rear number plate. A lot of garages put ‘Number plate surrounds’ on the actual number plate to advertise their business. Any clues as to who’s been maintaining the car are invaluable and need to be confirmed. If the vehicle doesn’t have a service history look around the interior. You’d be surprised at what you might find. Some service garages put stickers on the inside top right of the windscreen to indicate – “next service due at” – look for these stickers and call the garage detailed. If you find evidence that a sticker was previously there and has since been removed – be cautious! Ask for previous NCT records if available from the owner. The mileage reading taken at the test should be evident on the results.
  • High mileage generally leaves a number of physical indicators. Look for wear on the gear stick and steering wheel. Lower mileage cars (>50k) should have very little wear. On higher mileage vehicles you would expect to see a smoothing/shining effect on the plastic or leather due to usage. For digital clocks a diagnostic check of the vehicle engine control unit (ECU) could indicate if the mileage has been reprogrammed (this is part of the Motorcheck pre-purchase inspection). Look for excessive wear on the carpets, mats and pedals. If there are new carpet mats look under the mats for wear on the original carpet. Under the bonnet – look for a “greasy” or “creamy like” substance under the water cap (this is the cover on the radiator / expansion bottle) could indicate that the head gasket is failing. This would be common on cars with high mileage.
  • Consider an independent inspection by a qualified Automotive Engineer - An Automotive engineer will spend approximately three hours conducting a thorough inspection of a used car. Everything from the vehicle's mechanical condition, bodywork and structural condition will be inspected and reported on. In the case of a previously damaged vehicle an automotive engineer will be able to issue a certificate of road worthiness meaning that that the car is safe to drive.