Buying a Used Car - Your Checklist for 2022 | DCC Used Cars
Buying a Used Car Checklist for 2022
Buying a used car often means picking up a bargain or purchasing your ideal car on a much lower budget. Usually, this is a simple transaction from one careful owner to another, but trust alone is not always enough to work with when buying a used car.
Unlike approved dealerships, private sellers don’t usually offer any checks, warranty, or exchange and refund if something goes wrong. Once you have handed over your money, that car is yours, no matter the condition or issues.
Therefore, the best way to cover yourself is to buy your next used car from a reputable company that offers checks and warranties on all their used cars, and that has online reviews to see how other customers view their experience.
But in the end, the choice is yours and yours alone. So, if you decide to go on your own, we would like to help you in your journey with our practical checklist with all the elements to look out for when buying a used car.
Buying a Used Car Checklist - What to Look Out for When Buying a Used Car
Use this checklist when buying your next used car to help ensure you don’t end up with a jalopy.
Checking the Exterior
- Tyres - The legal limit on tyres is 1.6mm, treads under 3mm may need changing fairly soon and this would need to be reflected in the price.
- Rust - Look for bubbling paintworks and rust on the bodywork. Even small patches can turn into a bigger problem in a short space of time.
- Poor paintwork/damage - Look for shoddy paintwork which may indicate the vehicle has been damaged. This could indicate further damage which could be a safety issue. If you spot paintwork which does not match, looks rough or unfinished, or just isn’t quite right, ask the owner and ask to see the related paperwork.
- Suspension checks - Give the car a solid push down on each corner and what its return to position. If the car behaves like a boat on the waves or makes a lot of noise, you could be in for problems from the start.
Checking the Interior
- Mileage - Is the mileage fair for the vehicle’s age and condition? Does it match service book and any V5 entries? If the mileage seems too low, find out why and make sure you are satisfied. If the car has been clocked there could be any number of other things wrong with it as it will have more miles on it than it seems.
- Dash lights - Check for any warning lights on the dash and any which may have been tampered with. It may sound strange but untrustworthy sellers have been known to be as brazen as to simply tape over flashing dash lights with plumbers’ tape, so if you see something unusual don’t be afraid to ask.
- Spare wheel - Does it have one? Bear in mind many cars now have a space saver wheel instead of full size, and cars with run flat tyres may not have one at all.
- Seatbelts - Check the operation of all seatbelts, if any do not function properly this should be reflected in the price of the used car.
- Welds - Lift the carpet and look for welds in the footwells from one side of the car to the other. This could be a sign of a ‘cut n shut’ vehicle which are extremely dangerous, and you should walk away immediately.
Checking Under the Bonnet
- Oil - Pull out the dipstick and take a look at the oil. It should be shiny, black, and pure. If the oil is dirty, has a white substance in it or you cannot get any oil on the dipstick you may have a problem. Dirty or low oil would indicate the car has not had an oil change in a while and is not well maintained. Any sign of white in the oil comes from water, which should not be there and may mean a head gasket or engine block issue which is a very expensive business.
- Water/Coolant - Similarly, when checking the water if you see discolouration from oil you most likely have a gasket or block issue which will be a very large and expansive job to fix. Rust or brown muck in the coolant can happen over time, as rust, dirt and other residues collate in the liquid, but again a well-maintained used car should not have an issue with this. If the coolant is unable to function properly due to impurities the car will eventually overheat.
Checks While on the Test Drive
- Engine/Engine bay - Check the engine before and after the test drive. Has it been thoroughly cleaned? If so, why? Check it again after the test drive to look for leaks which may become apparent only after driving.
- Temperature - Check you are test driving your used car from cold, and if not insist upon doing so. Some issues only appear from cold, the same as some only when warm, so make sure you drive the vehicle from cold and when warm. Check the temperature reaches the middle of the gauge in good time and stays there, anything else could indicate problems.
- Clutch - What is the clutch action like? If it is hard or the biting point is near the top of the pedal the clutch may be in its last days.
- Gear selection - Is gear selection easy and smooth at different speeds? If not, there may be gear or clutch issues.
- Steering - Check the steering operates as expected. If it is too heavy or too light, there could be problems with the PAS system.
- Noises - Listen out for any and all noises which should not be there on your test drive. Do not let the seller talk all the way through the test drive, nor put the radio on.
Checking the Paperwork and Accessories
- Logbook - Make sure the logbook is available for you to see and that all details match both the vehicle and seller.
- Service history - Look over the service history ensuring the dates, mileage, and details all match up.
- MOT certificate - Ensure the MOT certificate is up to date and check over any observations and recommendations from recent tests.
- HPI check - It is always a good idea to run an HPI check on any used car you are looking to buy privately. This will quickly and easily tell you if the car has been in an accident, there is any outstanding finance, it has been stolen, its V5 has been stolen, and confirm the correct registration and VIN number for the car.
- Locking wheel nut key - If the car has locking wheel nuts ensure the locking wheel nut key comes with the car. If not, this should be reflected in the price and a new one ordered immediately.
- Spare keys - Confirm with the seller how many keys come with the vehicle. A car with only one key can be a sign of a stolen vehicle, and even if the loss is innocent replacements can be hundreds of pounds.
Buy a Used Car with Confidence with DCC
At DCC every car we sell comes prepared to AA dealer approved standards, and a minimum six month MOT and warranty. Take the stress out of buying a used car by making your next purchase online or in person with DCC Southampton or Fareham. View our current used car stock online and contact us to get a personalised demo video of the car you’re looking to buy.