Purchasing a second-hand car can a risky task, especially if you decide to buy the used car privately. We highly recommend buying a used car from a professional dealership as it will be equipped with an MOT, warranty and you can also expect the vehicle to be in tip-top condition. However, if you’re on a very low budget or you need a cheap first car for your son or daughter then buying privately may be the better option.
When on the hunt for a cheap and cheerful second hand car it’s important you go prepared so that when you view a second-hand vehicle you’re ready to ask the current owner the important questions, such questions could save you a lot of money in the long run. Make sure you know what to look for when inspecting the car, be thorough as minor imperfections all add up and you want to make sure you’re getting the best value for your hard-earned cash.
Get the most for your money
If you have a fixed budget make sure you shop around and compare all cars that meet your budget this way you can get the absolute most for your money. We recommend looking for a car with a lower mileage that also has some MOT and car tax left so you don’t have to pay for anything immediately after buying the car. Also, be cautious of anything that looks like an excellent bargain, because if it looks too good to be true then it most likely will be!
View the car’s document history
Once you decide to look at a used vehicle, the owner should have the service and MOT history documents at the ready, so don’t forget to check them. Look out for any major faults on the documents and make sure there have been no reoccurring issues, because if you buy the car the last thing you want to do is pay for costly breakdowns.
The MOT certificate should state that the car has had a yearly MOT after it turned 3 years old and the service history should also prove the car has been checked regularly. If there is no history then ask the owner why- if they can’t give you a reasonable answer, then it’s not worth the risk! There are also numerous registration plate checks you can do online or via your mobile phone, this way you can check to see if the car has even been written-off or stolen.
Look at the basics
Check to see if there are any stains or damage to the car’s interior and inspect the body work for dents and scratches. Damage to the outside of the car can drastically decrease the overall value, so it’s important to be aware of damage in case you’re planning to re-sell in the future. It is important you get a real feel for the car rather than just glancing over the exterior and interior, the only way you can do this is to take the car for a test drive. This way you can check that the brakes are working properly along with the gear stick, clutch, accelerator and steering wheel. One factor that should not be overlooked is the car’s seat belts - you must check that all the seatbelts are in working order as these are costly to repair and paramount for safety.
Top tip: Make sure the car comes with a handbook as these can be very costly to replace, and if locking wheel nuts are fitted ask the owner if they still have the specific adaptor used for the make and model of the vehicle.
We hope these tips help! Don’t forget that with private sellers there are no formal contracts involved, so if the vehicle ticks all the correct boxes and you decide to go ahead and purchase, make sure you confirm the price (and what’s included), agree on payment options, the collection date and time!