Estimated Time to Read: 3 minutes

Purchasing a second-hand car can be a quick and easy way in which to acquire your dream vehicle. However, in order to make the most of your purchase, you will need to take a few factors into consideration.

Setting a Budget

Before you consider the best type of vehicle for your needs, you will need to set yourself a budget. If you already own a vehicle and wish to sell it to raise funds, you will need to determine how much your vehicle is worth and whether you are willing to sell it privately or through a part-exchange agreement with a dealer. If your old vehicle is not worth much and you lack savings, you may need to take out a loan to buy your next car. You will therefore need to research the finance options available to you. When setting your budget, you will also need to determine the amount that you can afford to spend on fuel, tax, and insurance.

Choosing a Vehicle

A wide range of second-hand vehicles will be available to you and this can make the process of choosing a vehicle difficult. When choosing a vehicle, take the time to determine the activities you will use the car for, whether or not you will carry passengers and the amount it will cost you to insure, tax, service, repair, and run.

Inspecting a Vehicle

While you don’t need qualifications in car mechanics to be able to adequately inspect a second-hand car, there are a few rules that you will need to follow. Always view the car during the daytime as this will enable you to be better able to spot damage. Obtain a vehicle history check to determine whether or not the car is associated with any outstanding finance or has been written off or stolen.

Examine the vehicle’s documents with care, including the logbook, service history and MOT certificates. By reading these key documents in full, you will be able to check key points around the vehicle and assess whether the car’s description was accurate. Make a note of the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), which can be found under the bonnet and on the chassis underneath the carpet near to the driver’s seat. Ensure that the VIN in the car matches that recorded in the logbook. Look for signs of rusting, mismatched paint and any gaps between body panels and ensure that all of the car’s main features function efficiently.

Test Driving a Vehicle

Assess the vehicle by taking it for a 15-minute test drive. This will enable you to determine the way in which the vehicle operates on the road. Ensure that suitable insurance coverage is in place before you take the car for a test drive. Start the vehicle when the engine is cold, listen out for any strange noises and have someone look out for excessive smoke. Check that the gears, steering, brakes, and suspension function as normal.

Completing the Paperwork for a Vehicle

Request any paperwork from the owner of the vehicle and prepare paperwork in anticipation of the vehicle’s handover. Check that any paperwork received is genuine. Vehicles over three years of age should be supplied with a current MOT. Ensure that you write receipts for both yourself and the seller of the vehicle. The receipt should include the car’s make, model, registration number, VIN and mileage, as well as a written statement acknowledging the fact that the seller has accepted the cash sum for the car and has received their money. Both you and the seller should sign and date the receipt and copies should be retained for future reference.

Once the sale has been made, you should complete and send the new keeper parts of the logbook to the DVLA. If you already possess car insurance and are replacing your old car, you must notify your insurance company of your purchase as soon as the sale has been agreed so that your premiums can be adjusted in a timely manner. If you do not possess car insurance, you will need to take out insurance before you drive away your vehicle.

If you have any concerns during or after the purchase, or later discover any hidden problems with the vehicle or the paperwork, then you may want to find a solicitor who can advise you on your legal position and the options available to you.

Written by James Sheehan, a blogger with past legal experience