Buying a second-hand vehicle is a brilliant way to save money. Unless of course, you get stuck with a faulty car! Whilst you may think you're getting a bargain, there are plenty of pitfalls to look out for to make sure you're making the right investment.
It can be tempting to take a risk when you think about the savings to be made, but unfortunately you could end up spending much more money on repairs or even a brand new car if your purchase is beyond salvage.
So what can you do to make sure this doesn't happen to you?
Check the tires
This doesn't just mean a quick kick to make sure they're well inflated. Of course you don't want to drive away on tires that aren't road legal, but take a closer look.
Get on their level and inspect the tread. It can tell you a lot more about how the car has been driven than most other aspects. If the seller has only had the tires for a few months but they're almost bald, you might want to question how the car has been driven.
Check the chassis
The chassis should have a small code stamped into it. Don't worry if not, the seller may have had it replaced. However, be wary if you can't see it. Whilst it could be innocent, it also could be a sign that the car is stolen.
All UK vehicles should have a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on the chassis that matches the details stated in the car's log book.
Check your vitals
Make a point to check each seatbelt individually. Any damage to the belts from previous crashes, animal passengers or general wear and tear could mean they don't adequately protect you in an accident. Don't leave their driveway if you feel as if you're taking this risk, let alone part with the cash!
When you want to avoid buying a faulty used car, it's important to consider the hidden elements that paint a bigger picture.
Check what's new
Fresh fabric lining the roof? Beware - this is often a quick fix when the car's roof has been leaking. If the car smells a little musty, it could be damp that the seller has tried to hide.
In fact, there's quite a few tactics sellers use to hide the real problems that will haunt you months after you've parted with your cash. Keep an eye out for the story behind every new part and don't be afraid to ask further questions about what lead to the repair.
Listen to the car
Ok, this does sound slightly poetic, but it's an important part of the test drive. Try the radio to make sure it works, but turn the music off for the drive. The sound a car makes whilst driving can alert you to serious health problems. A clunky gear change, slight rattle or rush of air coming through a draughty window can all point to costly repairs.
When the UK Citizen's Advice bureau analysed 2,519 second-hand car complaints in the first two weeks of September 2013, they found that 4 in 5 of the cars in question also required essential repairs.
Don't make yourself part of the statistic. Stick to our guide and stay safe on the roads!
© Stanley R Harris 2016