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What to Consider When Buying a Second-Hand Car

Buying a new car is an expensive endeavour at the best of times. But with shortages still impacting the automotive industry, new cars are more expensive and harder to find than ever before. As such, many are turning to the used car market for the first time. If you are one of those people, what should you be looking out for?

Legal Documents 

Your very first concern should be to verify the legal stature of the car you’re interested in buying. There are several documents you can use to do this, some of which are a legal requirement for the seller to provide. The most important of these is the V5C document, which includes identifying information about the car in question and its current owner. If the information on the V5C doesn’t match the information given by the seller or the physical appearance of the car, these are major indicators that the car is not all it seems. You can also request to see the car’s service manual, which legally must include owner and service history. Reading this can give you a solid clue as to the car’s current condition, and if any old issues may resurface after purchase.


Alongside reviewing the legal documentation regarding the used car you’d like to buy, you should also think carefully about MOT information. New cars are exempt from undergoing MOTs until they have been on the road for three years; when buying used, you will likely shoulder the responsibility of taking your car for an MOT each year. With this in mind, has the car you are viewing undergone a recent MOT? A recent MOT pass is a good indicator of a well-maintained vehicle, whereas no MOT certificate means a significant risk of undiagnosed issues. Still, the deal may be too good to pass up. After buying, you will need to book an MOT at your earliest convenience – whether you book your MOT online or in person, you will need to do this soon to make your car road legal. 

Engine, Brakes, Suspension 

Even with an MOT certificate and clean service history, there are still niggling problems that can present themselves during driving, which can quickly balloon into expensive repairs. As such, you should always endeavour to take a prospective purchase for a test drive. When driving, you should watch out for sagging suspension and ‘lazy’ braking. If acceleration feels sluggish, or there are unusual noises coming from the engine, these could also indicate burgeoning issues that may cost to fix.

Negotiating With the Seller 

Of course, not every second-hand vehicle can be a perfect, pristine example of its type. Those that are, tend to be significantly more expensive than their counterparts. With this in mind, you may be willing to concede on certain requirements or potential car issues – but you shouldn’t do so without attempting to reach a deal with the seller. Whether you’re buying from a dealership or a private listing, there will be some leeway, either with the price, or with the provision of free extras. Use any potential problems as leverage, and you may be able to strike a deal.

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