What questions should you ask before buying a used car?

Buying a used car is likely to be one of the major purchases you make in your lifetime but what research should you do and what questions should you ask at the dealership before parting with your cash? Here are ten handy pointers to bear in mind when looking for a new set of wheels…

Danny Devito
Danny Devito played an unscrupulous used car salesman in ‘Matilda’ but not all play up to the trilby-wearing stereotype


What fuel consumption should I expect from the vehicle?
With fuel prices continuing to fluctuate – don’t ever expect them to drop too much – mileage is an important consideration when buying a used car. A quick search online should give you a good idea of the vehicle’s estimated fuel consumption. Bear in mind older cars’ MPG may drop slightly on their brand spanking new counterparts.

Is the car reliable?
The longer your vehicle lasts you, the less it ends up costing per mile and if, like most of us, your car is part of your everyday life then the last thing you need is a motor that lets you down. A quick internet search should give you a decent idea of how other owners view the used vehicle you’re thinking of buying.

How much will the vehicle cost to insure?
Every car needs insurance before taking to the road – no matter how old it is. There are some great price comparison sites out there which will give you a good indication of how much you should expect to pay. Insurance costs vary tremendously depending on the make and model you’re looking at so best to go armed with information about how much extra you’re likely to have to pay each year on top of the initial purchase price.

Check out the dealer?
In the era of TripAdvisor and other reputable review websites, it’s worth spending a bit of time researching who you are about to do business with. See whether other customers are happy with the service they received. The Car Dealer Reviews website is a good one to check out.


How many miles has the vehicle done?
Something to consider with regard to mileage is potential upcoming maintenance work with many manufacturers recommending certain parts be replaced at specific intervals. If the vehicle has a high mileage it is worth asking what work has been carried out in the recent past.

How long does the MOT have to run?
If the car only has a few months’ MOT to run there is a chance you could soon be shelling out for a new test and any associated work. If the car has less than 4 months’ MOT, chance your arm and ask for a new one as part of the deal. It is also worth asking about previous MOTs to see what work has been carried out.

Can I see the service history?
In an ideal world you want to see the service book – complete with stamps – to confirm work has been carried out. There’s no need to panic if it’s not present with older vehicles, but ask for receipts to show any work was actually done.

Has the car been in any accidents?
Vehicles that have been involved in accidents can bring down the value of your purchase or cause problems down the line for you. If it has had a bump then ask what repair work the car has had and demand to see receipts.

Does the car have a warranty?
If you’re getting or buying a warranty, make sure you understand the full terms. You may be able to get a manufacturer warranty from your dealer but ask about how long it lasts and any exclusions.

Can I have my mechanic inspect the vehicle?
If you have a mechanic then consider asking them to run the rule over the car to let you know of any unforeseen problems. They may charge you a few quid but it could be worth it in the long run.


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