Buying a used car

When looking to buy a used car it is very much a case of caveat emptor – Let the buyer beware! There are certainly a number of important things that you should always do in order to try to make sure that you end up with the right vehicle.

Firstly, make sure that you give the car a really good test drive and that you are happy with not only the way that the car handles but also that you are comfortable driving it. Check that when everything is adjusted for you, the driving position gives you a good clear view of everything around you and that you are happy and confident driving the car.

Although this does sound very obvious it is one of the most important things. After all, you don’t want to end up with a car that you don’t enjoy driving or struggle to control. You’d be amazed at just how many people have regretted buying a car later because they didn’t spend long enough in the initial stages checking that they were happy driving it and that it suited their needs.

When you test drive the car, also take the opportunity to check out the electrical systems – lights, sunroof, windows, remote locking and so on. You need to not only make sure that you are happy with the way that the car drives, but that it is actually suitable for any particular needs that you have too. For example, if you have young children, will a pushchair fit in the boot and does the child seats fit properly? If you need a car with a good deal of flexibility of storage space, does it offer this? Will the rear seats fold down to allow you to carry larger loads?

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Secondly, check all of the paperwork carefully. This paperwork includes the V5C registration document, which will verify that the person selling the car is the named legal owner. You should also ask to view the service history that should show how regularly the car has been maintained and whether major services have been carried out which might include changing things like the cam belt/timing belt.

The service history should also give you a general indication about how well maintained the vehicle has been. Also, if the car is over three years old, see if previous MOTs are present too. An extremely useful tip here is that as long as you have the vehicle’s registration number and the document reference from the V5C document you can check the MOT history going back to 2005 online by going to

So there you have it. Just a few tips on what to look out for and a few ways that you can make sure that the car you’re looking to buy really is everything that it’s made out to be. Of course there are other things you can do as well, including getting the car checked out by an organisation such as the AA, but the pointers above will at least give you a good starting point. Good luck and happy motoring!