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Buying a new car can be expensive, hence why many people chose to go down the used car route. However, if you have not done your homework and know what questions to ask beforehand, buying a used car can work out to be economically unviable if there are hidden costs down the line that you were unaware of at outset. Maintenance and repair costs can soon add up and this is why it is important to know what to look for when buying a used car.

The good news is you don’t need to be a car expert to be able to make an informed choice. You just need to prepare a quick checklist beforehand.

Too good to be true

We all know the old adage ‘if it seems too good be true, then it usually is’. Therefore if the age, mileage and condition of the car don’t seem to add up then question this. Make sure you see the car’s documentation such as service records and MOT certificates; this will give you an idea of the car’s history and mileage.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

Has the car been in any accidents? If so, what was the damage? You could also check for any obvious re-sprays or signs of damage such as dents, scratches, and mismatched colours or signs of any unusual welding activity under the hood and elsewhere.

Also, what about the tyres? Are they safe or do they look worn or old?

Testing, testing

Test drive the car before you buy. This is very important as it will be a good opportunity to get a ‘feel’ for the car and to check for any strange noises or ‘pulling’ from one side to another. It is also a good opportunity to test the brakes, not to mention other relevant controls like checking to see if the lights, seatbelts, warning lights, locks, and windscreen wipers etc work. What about the exhaust fumes? Is there excessive smoke, or worse, any strange colours being emitted?

Documents please!

It is important that all the paperwork is in order before you buy the car. Ask to see the documentation such as the MOT, tax disc and registration documentation. If the person selling you the car is not the person named on the registration document, then enquire as to why. Check for any spelling errors and ensure the registration document has a watermark. This is very important.

Created by UK based blogger Paul O’Hara. Paul was born in Ireland but has been living in the UK since the age of 5. He is a freelance journalist with a passion for cars and motorbikes. If he is not busy writing for on- and offline publications in the UK and US he loves to take his dog for a walk and to meet up with his friends and family over a good glass of French wine.