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Buying a Used Car – Tips for the Savvy Buyer

Making an investment in a used car is a smart move, but as with all major investments, you’ll want to make sure you get the best deal for your money and steer well clear of dodgy deals. This post takes a look at a few things you can do to make sure your new used car is all it’s made out to be.

Choosing a Dealership

You’ll have to choose between buying privately and buying from a dealership – but which should you go for? Some less reputable dealers pose as private sellers to gain trust from a buyer, and some private sellers have been known to wind back the mileage count as a way of bumping the price up.

It is swings and roundabouts, so the advice is to make sure everything is transparent and insist upon a car with full service history and MOT documents and V5C registration document to prove ownership history. Reputable dealers like Shelbourne Motors are a good bet if you’re not buying privately.

Viewing a Used Car

It would be very unwise to buy anything without making absolutely sure it’s in top condition and in full working order. Make sure you view your car in broad daylight so you can inspect every inch of the bodywork and interior. Per year, most vehicles do around 10,000 miles, so any used car with a mileage above this should be scrutinised in great detail.

Here’s a checklist interior and exterior checks:


  • Upholstery – make sure the level of wear is in keeping with the mileage stated.
  • Pedals – On your test drive, check the clutch operates smoothly
  • Steering wheel and gear stick – look for wear and tear which should tally with its advertised mileage
  • Seatbelts – check they still retract properly and lock into the buckles


  • Tyres – do the 20p test in the treads, check for cracks and wear
  • Paintwork – bubbles in the paintwork could indicate rust
  • Doors – check all the panels and make sure the doors and the boot open and close properly.

Under the Bonnet

Check the engine oil level, make sure it’s not leaking and that the coolant is not discoloured. Ensure that the cam belt has been changed regularly according to manufacturer guidelines – it should say this in the service history documentation. Watch for black or bluish smoke when the engine is running and check the suspension springs the car back up after pressure is applied.

© Will Hope 2016