What to Look Out for When Buying a Second-Hand Car


Buying a used car is a fantastic way to save money. There are so many fantastic deals on used cars that you should be able to find your dream make and model at the right price for you. If you don’t look out for a few key things, your used car could prove to be very expensive in the long run. Here is a list of things you should look out for when buying a used car.

Create a Checklist of Requirements

Understanding what you need from a vehicle should be the ultimate guide to whether you buy or not. Writing out a checklist of requirements can be crucial in buying the car that is right for you.

Take The Car For a Test Drive

Viewing the car on a driveway or forecourt is one thing but you’ll only get a true feel for how the vehicle handles by taking it out on the roads. If you’re looking to buy privately and not sure what make/model to go for, visiting car dealerships is a good opportunity to see what you enjoy the feel of. Then, when you do find a potential purchase, always insist on taking it out for a spin to check that things are working properly and that it drives as well as expected.

Tips When Test Driving A Used Car

Our top tips cover checking the car’s exterior and interior and testing the engine, steering, clutch, brakes and suspension.

If you discover any problem, you have two options. You can either use them to drive down the asking price on the basis you’ll need to spend money fixing them, or you can simply walk away from the sale.


We know this may sound obvious; however, it most certainly is worth mentioning. The mileage on a car is one of the most important things to check. Always ask for the vehicle documents, which should help you determine the correct mileage, as you’ll be able to compare them on the MOT and service documents. If unsure, most cars travel an average of around 10,000 miles per year.

MOT & Service History

Always ask to see the vehicles MOT and service history records. If you have any doubts about whether the MOT is legit, then you can use the gov.uk certificate checker using the vehicle registration number. There should be a continuation of MOT certificates for the vehicle annually and a regular service history. If there is no service history ask about this and if there are any recurring faults, inquire as to why as this could indicate a faulty part that cannot be repaired.

View The Car More Than Once

Often, the first time you view a car, you’ll not notice everything about it so you may decide it’s the right vehicle for you without being fully informed. By seeing the car more than once, you can be assured that you’ve seen it in daylight so you’re aware of any hidden dents and scratches. Be sure to take it on a test drive before you put down any money.

What To Check When Buying A Used Car

At the viewing, keep safe by following our tips below and also remember to check the car’s essential paperwork is in order.

  • Before driving a car, check with your insurance company to see if you’re covered to drive another car. If you’re not, arrange temporary cover.
  • Take proof of your insurance with you when going to view the car.
  • Consider taking a friend with you, and if possible, view the car in the daylight
  • Check the seller’s name and address on the internet if possible.
  • If you decide to go ahead and buy the car, arrange to meet in person for payment and handover.
  • If the price of the car seems too good to be true, it probably is!
  • Arrange to view the car at the seller’s home or business address. Check that the address is the same as the one on the V5C registration certificate. If the seller isn’t the registered keeper, walk away. They probably aren’t legally entitled to see the vehicle. Make sure you ask to take a car for a test drive with the seller. If you suspect the seller isn’t insured, ask to see proof of their insurance.