Used Car Buying Guide
23rd August 2018
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It takes many (long) hours to research what car will be perfect for your specific wants and needs, but also to find one that is mechanically and structurally reliable, giving you total peace of mind that your money has been invested wisely.    

 

Cars are like us - they all have a background and a previous history. Knowing how to investigate that history, what to look for and where to find it takes experience, expertise and effort. But, regardless of the time it may take, it is a step that needs to be done ... regardless of who is selling the car to you.    

 

To the naked eye... that car you have found might appear "perfect" - but is it?    

 

When you are looking for your next car, there are 6 crucial steps we always recommend taking prior to putting down your hard-earned cash:    

 

1) Perform a Full HPI Check  

 

Things to look out for:

    • Number of previous owners
    • The vehicle VIN/Chassis number & engine number - cross reference with the log book and the physical vehicle)
    • Any plate changes
    • Outstanding finance
    • Reported stolen or reported as having significant damage 
    • Book valuation of the vehicle (Glasses guide and CAP Guide)

 

2) Perform an MOT Check With The DVLA   

 

Things to look out for:

    • Cross reference the vehicle mileage, taking note of any discrepencies as well as any prior advisories and/or failuers. Ensure these have been addressed (and request invoices/receipts for evidence).

 

3) Service Book Record Check (don't be afraid to request a copy of the service book as well as any service and maintenance invoices from the seller - this is a VITAL step)  

 

Things to look out for:

    • If all service and maintenance records are present, check everything has been completed in line with manufacturer recommendations. 
    • If invoices and paperwork is not present, you can call each invidual garage (the name and number is usually obtainable from the service stamps, however failing that a quick search on the web will get you the contact information required!) who has performed the service to check exactly what work was completed.

 

4) Bodywork Inspection  

 

Things to look out for:

    • Look out for any differences in colour of any individual body panels, this can be an indication that the vehicle has been in an accident. Or alternatively received a poor bodywork paint job. If this is the case - the area that has received poor finishing can deteriorate quicker over time.
    • Lacquer Peeling - Lacquer is a protective layering that protects the paint. If there are signs that this is starting to come off - this can lead to further damage to the paintwork over a period of time. Lacquer can be re-applied - however it is a job for a bodywork specialist, so cost needs to be considered.

 

5) What Guarantee & Warranty Will You Receive - How Comprehensive is It?  

 

Things to look out for:

    • Does it cover all electrical and mechanical part or just some? If some - how many and what is actually covered?
    • What hourly labour cost does it covers (for reference, the UK average hourly labour cost for a car mechanic is around £70)?
    • What is the single claim limit and number of claims you are entitled to?

 

6) Mechanical and Structural Inspection  

 

Finally, and most importantly, arrange an unbiased mechanical and structural inspection from an experienced, trained mechanic. A few you can consider are... AA, RAC, Click Mechanic and Ace Vehicle Inspections. However there are some excellent local mechanics that offer to carry out inspections for a small charge.    

 

For extra peace of mind and due diligence, there are further checks you can carry out - but the 6 steps above are the absolute crucial ones!    

 

Over the next few weeks - I am going to go into further detail for each of the individual 6 steps (and give you a few examples & case studies so you know exactly what you should look out for!). We will end our first blog series by detailing the further steps you can take to ensure you find the perfect car - at the best possible price.    

 

For information about how we can help you find the perfect car, at the best possible price - and help you through the process of ensuring it is mechanically and structurally reliable - please get in touch and ask for Mike Kirby for a friendly chat on 07383553177.

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About the Author

Mike K

Member since: 23rd July 2018

Hi, I'm Mike Kirby and I am the Owner and Director of Find & Finance Ltd.

Find & Finance is a unique personal vehicle finding service, helping you find the very best car, van or motorbike within your...

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