Best Tips for Buying a Used Car

The biggest benefit of purchasing a used car is its price. While you may be saving money upfront, there are still risks that could prove costly.

When buying a used vehicle, it is important to make sure that you are making the right purchase. It’s not good to be sold a car that is costly to fix or has multiple problems.

We have partnered with Carvine to bring you seven top tips on buying a used vehicle.

What are your needs and wants?

Before you meet with a seller face-to-face, think about what you want and need from your next vehicle. Do you need a car to work, or just because you want an upgrade?

Take into account the following:

Practical requirements: Are you looking to reduce running costs? You can also get a larger vehicle to make your family more comfortable or carry more luggage on longer journeys. You need to look at your car from a practical standpoint.

Reliability: While a used car might be more affordable upfront, you don’t want costly repairs down the line. Before making any difficult decisions, make sure to research vehicles that have a good reputation for reliability.

What are your plans for the car? Are you looking for a car that can be used to commute to work, or for long-distance driving? You can find the perfect vehicle for you by considering the size of the engine and the fuel type.

Eco-friendly? There are increasing concerns about the global high levels of emissions. Numerous low-emission zones have been created across the country in response. For example, Euro 5 petrol or Euro 6 diesel have a free pass to London’s ULEZ. However, this exemption will be withdrawn as more pure electric vehicles are introduced.


When buying a new car or used vehicle, it is important to not spend more than you can afford. Consider how much you spend on your daily bills and loan agreements like mortgages, phone bills, utilities, and so forth. Next, calculate how much you will spend on fuel (or charging, if you have an electric vehicle), maintenance, repairs, MOT and tax, as well as insurance.

Reputable sellers are recommended

A reputable seller, trader or dealer is the best way to purchase any car. Privately buying requires more knowledge about cars to make sure you aren’t being scammed.

There is a big difference in the level of after-sales support you receive and the preparation that you get from your preferred sellers. The more resources you have, the larger your business. However, the overheads will be higher than the price so you’ll still have to pay the forecourt.

As a guide point, independent garages often offer a middle ground between franchised dealerships and driveway traders. To give you greater peace of mind, both garages and dealers will have gone through rigorous checks on each vehicle.

Look into car finance

Although not all car finance deals can be transferred to the used market, there are some lenders that will offer customers competitive loans if they want to purchase from a reputable dealer, such as a lease purchase.

It’s tempting for dealership financing to be accepted. However, it is worth doing your research ahead of time to ensure that you get the best deal possible and save some money in the end.

You can get bad credit car financing if you have a bankruptcy, IVA, CCJ or other credit issues that have led to you being rejected by loan lenders in the past. Specialist lenders can help you get approved for a loan by analyzing your personal circumstances.

Ask for all paperwork

The person you buy your used car should be able to access all relevant paperwork, from VC5 logbooks and service history. Before you sign the dotted line, they should also allow you to view them.

Verify that the mileage has been accurately recorded, that the MOT is current, and that it is up-to-date. You should verify the previous owners as well as any repairs or spare parts done over the years.

Don’t give out any false or incomplete information to the seller.

Book a test drive

A reputable seller should not be able to prevent you from taking a test drive. All the necessary insurance should be in place. You can also get behind the wheel to experience the car’s driving dynamics and to spot any potential problems.

You can take the car on different roads and let it go for a walk on country roads before you put it through its paces on a motorway or dual carriageway. This is the best way for you to test the car’s handling, acceleration, brakes, and maneuverability.

If you find any unusual symptoms, be sure to point them out to the seller. This is not the car for you if they are unable to provide a solution or willing to lower the price for possible repairs.

Take a look at the exteriors and interiors

Every car that you are considering buying deserves a thorough inspection. You should ensure that the interiors are in good condition. This includes no tears in the upholstery and all electronics, including the radios and windows. Also, make sure the seat belts work correctly.

Next, inspect the bodywork and inside the bonnet to make sure there are no oil residues, rust or other visible repairs not already noted in the paperwork.

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