What To Look For When Buying a Second-Hand Car

If you’re on the look out for a second-hand car, there’s a few things you need to do before you take the plunge.


When you’re working out the budget for your car, remember to factor in how much it will cost in fuel and insurance. You don’t want to end up with a car that costs a fortune to run or costs too much to insure.


You might be hankering after a two-seater sports, but if you’ve got a family it’s not going to be a practical choice.

Think about what you need. For example, will 4 doors be better for you than 2, will a hatchback be okay, or do you need a car with a large boot?

Are you thinking about having more children? If so you need to take that into consideration. You might be better off buying an MPV now so that you’ll have the room to accommodate your growing family.

Once you know what features you want you can begin to look for a model that fits the bill at a price you can afford.

Where to Look

You can either buy a car privately if you see an advert online or in the paper. A private sale won’t get you the security of a warranty though. But, it does mean that you can talk to the owner directly. Maybe you’ll find out more about the service and ownership history.

Buying from a dealer you can finance the purchase if you need to borrow the money. A good dealership will have gone over the car carefully, so there shouldn’t be any major problems.


Whether you decide to buy privately or through a dealer. Ask questions. Find out how many previous owners the car has had. If it has ever been in an accident and whether there’s documentation to back up the service history.


Turn the engine on and make sure the indicators and the horn work. Check to see there aren’t any warning lights lit up on the dashboard. Also look at the headlights and the brake lights. Finally, check the tyres including the spare.

Test Drive

Take the car out for a test drive. Does the engine sound smooth? The gears shouldn’t make any crunching noises and there shouldn’t be any excess smoke from the exhaust.

The Interior

Once you’re happy with the condition of the engine have a look at the interior. An old car might not be perfect. But, you can always spruce it up a bit and maybe add new car mats to make it look fresher.

Finally, check the registration document. Look at the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) on the chassis. Make sure it corresponds with the number in the log book.


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