A Guide to Buying a Used Car

There are a few questions you can always ask the seller when you are trying to buy a used car to make sure you get a fair offer. There are some great bargains to be had out there, but how do you know if within 5 minutes of driving the car you are interested in is going to break down? You’ve had a good look at the car and it looks all right, but are you really confident that the car is a good deal? Make sure you ask the seller the following questions to avoid being ripped off:
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Summary – Have a good look at the vehicle. Check for bumps, dents and rust signs and make sure you point to the seller for everything you find out. Check that the locks all work and that the gas cap fits properly. Take a look at the engine and inquire if it was altered in some way. Verify that the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on the vehicle matches the one on the Certificate of Vehicle Registration.
Ownership – how many owners were there in the car? Generally, the less owners, the better, because if you purchase from the original owner, they’ll be able to tell you more about the history of the vehicle. Be cautious if the owner is selling for a very short time after getting the vehicle – ask them why they are selling. The owner category may also show how the car has been driven. Do you buy it from a lady, or do you buy it from a man in his 20s?
Mileage – how many miles has the car done? Does this amount to about 10,000-12,000 a year? If it is much higher, be mindful that there will be more wear and tear on the engine, so try to haggle the price down.
Service History – Does the car have a history of complete service? Ask to see the service book and check the records to make sure that a garage has stamped each service.
Accidents – Was the vehicle involved in an accident? By contacting the DVLA, you can verify this, as they have records of every car in their database.
Reason for Selling – Do you buy from a private seller or from a dealer in used cars? Why is the owner selling, if it is a private sale? Ask them to be frank and admit that the car may have some issues (e.g. oil leaks). Ask the seller if he was satisfied with the car.
Extras – What extras are there for the car? Check that they all work (air conditioning, electric windows, CD player, etc).
Fuel Performance – Ask how many miles the car has per gallon. You would want a vehicle that is fuel efficient if you intend to drive the car over long distances.
Test Drive – To see how it handles, always take the car out for a test run. A test drive is a good way to see if there are any issues with the vehicle.