In today’s used car market there are a number of reasons why buyers are cautious when looking for a new car but with a few considerations you can be sure that the car you are looking at is suitable and has no hidden aspects the seller would rather you didn’t know.
One of the most prominent concerns is that the car has been clocked, written off or stolen in the past. In the past the history provided by the seller would be the best indicator of the cars history. This would normally contain stamps from dealerships where the car has been serviced, the date of each service and the mileage at the time. While this is still a good indication if this information is missing, the inclusion of this information does not mean that everything is as it seems. A HPI (Hire Purchase Information) check is the definitive solution. This is a service provided by a UK company that verifies the history of a vehicle. Situations where this may not be required are when a reputable used car dealer carried this check out before purchasing the car or they can provide documentation that satisfies you that equivalent checks have been carried out. Always check to see if this has been carried out already as there is normally a cost involved. The dealer should be able to provide evidence of this if they have already carried it out.
Warranties are often provided with used cars from dealerships but understanding what the warranty includes is crucial as there are many aspects to a vehicle such as interior cosmetics which are not generally included. You should be able to read through the terms of such a warranty before purchase. If you are satisfied with the level of cover and duration offered by the warranty, you can move on to the mileage.
The log book can be a good indicator of mileage as each service should have the mileage logged which allows you to see how much has been added since the last service. Some dealerships offer a certificate of mileage on their used cars which you can look over while considering the vehicle.
It is also possible to have a third party carry out a thorough service inspection of a used vehicle but there is normally some cost involved so check to see if the dealer has already carried this out. Remember the dealer was a buyer before it came into their possession.
While used cars may be taxed for some duration this is less of a concern than the M.O.T. (Ministry of Transport) test. This needs to be carried out every 12 months once the vehicle exceeds 3 years of age so ensuring there is as much as possible left at the time of purchase is essential. Some dealerships will test the vehicle once it is purchased (giving you the full 12 months).
Some dealerships may also offer roadside assistance as part of their service. While this can provide you with peace of mind it is not a primary concern.
Finally the interior should be thoroughly valeted. A clean interior is a measure of the degree of care the car has been put through before going on show.
These tips relate mainly to buying cars from dealerships, private sales can be trickier. Assume nothing during a private sale. The seller should have no reservations about you pressing every button and flipping every switch to ensure all peripheral features are working. Doing your own HPI check and commissioning your own inspection in a privately advertised vehicle is the only way you can be sure of the cars history and condition. In either event, the most important thing is to ensure you are 100% happy with the deal on the table before making an offer and if you discover something that was not as it seemed, you can either factor it into your offer or move on to another car.