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Advice on Buying a Used Car
Buying a used car can be a fun and rewarding experience, or a pain, it can be difficult to predict whats ahead for a motor based on its appearence alone. But the phrase 'too good to be true' and 'dont judge a book by its cover' both apply. Your next car might go for years without fault. But to make as sure as possible it will, below are a few points to check, in the end if you are not sure - refer to a professional!
|Under the Bonnet:|
|Oil||How is the oil level? perfect level would hint at either well maintained or just topped up. Also check that it appears as you would expect with no bits, grit, dirt etc.|
|Automatic Transmission Fluid||The fluid needs to be bright red, if it at all smells burnt in anyway or is yellow/brown it can be problematic.|
|Defroster and Wiper Fluid||Check the levels in both- can indicate how much effort seller has put in to preparing car.|
|Hoses||Check theres no gapping holes or obvious cracks, or spongyness.|
|Engine Bay||Rusty coloured stains can be a bad sign, but too clean may mean something is being hidden.|
|Tyre wear||Check for uneven wear (e.g. one side has more wear on the tyres.) Also check grip and for bulges, lack of grip may mean they will soon need replacing and buldges also may require replacements.|
|Windscreen Wipers||Check how warn they are, and that they work!! although it may appear to be insignificant on a summers day it can mean extra cost.|
|Paint Chips/Discolour||Newer paint can idicated accidents, often appears a different shade/lighter/matt.|
|Lights||Check all lights, indicators, hazards, breaklights and low/full beams.|
|Foot Pedals||Excessivly warn foot pedals can represent alot of town driving or just alot of driving, this may be expected depending on the age of the car.|
|Internal Leaks||Check for moisture under the mats, on the back seats and in the boot and on parcel shelf. A leak into your car can be troublesome to correct.|
|Windows and Sunroofs||Check all electric windows and sunroofs. Should it be said that a fuse is causing them to not work, ask that it is replaced and test them several times to ensure they continue to work.|
|Doors, Central Locking, Child locks||Central locking can be great - but only if it works, if the key works remotely check that it works, and check the spare keys.|
|Immobiliser||Again great when it's operational but on older cars they break, the transponders in the keys that operate them can fault at which point the whole car wont go without a new key programmed, or the immobiliser switched off.|
|Heater / Air Conditioning (AC)||Check that it works, cold is cold hot is hot and blowers all blow. Occasionally bad smells can get stuck in the system and can be a pain when summer comes along.|
|Before you start the engine||Check to see if the car has been 'warmed up' by the seller. This can mean that its been jump started or left running to make it appear better (or maybe they were just using it.) In older cars expect harder starting when cold and moist.|
|Insurance||If you are not insured to drive the car then don't drive the car. Ask that the seller drives you around, watch for any quirks like them having to use hand signalling or having problems with a gear or the clutch.|
|Pulls to one side||If you do get to drive it, or you could ask the seller to drive strait a little down the road, see if it pulls obviously to one side.|
|Steering wheel||Jerky, noise or shaking when turning a corner can be bad, Constant Velocity (cv) joints can be expensive to replace.|
|Noises||Listen really carefully, knocks, squeaks and grinding noises are all genrally (if noticeable) bad. Anything that sounds out of the normal may be a potential issue. Do not be afraid to let the engine run and check under the bonnet to see if anything sounds wrong.|
|Breaking||Check the breaking is as expected. Breaks can stick on, not work at all or feel spongy, all of these may hint at later problems and are potentially unsafe. Also check handbrake works.|
|Dealers||If you are trading in try and get a good price and stick with it.|
|Log Books||Check that the log book appears correct and proper, if unsure check with DVLA before handing over any money.|
|Other Paper Work - Service History||The paperwork kept in the glove box/compartment or in the associated manual/book can reveal a great deal about a car, as can the lack of paperwork. Dealer stamps are good but local garages can be just as good. Recent Cam belt changes, new exhausts, tyres, refurbished engines are all good to know.|
Genrally speaking cars need more new parts the older they get, 70-80 thousand miles is the usual start of costs however if the majority of the miles were done on motorways then it can be alot higher. Lower mileage does not guarentee less faults, city driving for 50k miles with lots of stops, starts and small journeys can be bad for an engine and 120k mile of motorway driving may well be less harmful to an engine.
|If you can think of any we have missed anything then please contact us and let us know!|