Buy a used car with confidence

When buying a used car, how do you know that the car is reliable or that it is actually worth the price tag writes Geraldine Herbert

While your lifestyle needs and budget should be at the top of your list of things to consider there are a few simple steps you should take to ensure you’re getting a good car for the right price.

1) Pay the right price
Do some research to determine if you are being asked to pay a fair price. Search online for cars of the same age, condition, mileage and those with similar extras.

2) Take a good look around the car
You don’t have to be a car expert to spot something that just doesn’t look right so take time to view the car in daylight. Check for dents and marks and look closely at the paintwork, is it the same colour all over? If not, it may indicate that the car has been repaired, possibly as the result of an accident. Also take a few minutes to check inside and ensure the lights, air conditioning, radio etc are all working.

3) Watch out for wear and tear
If the mileage on the car is high then there will be obvious signs of age on the steering wheel and pedals. Similarly, low mileage should mean less wear and tear but low mileage and signs of age should ring alarm bells.

4) Take it for a test drive
Ask for at least half an hour’s drive and take a route that will take in town, open roads and, if possible, a motorway. If buying privately, make sure in advance your insurance will cover you for the drive. A dealer should provide cover for test drives. Try every gear, including reverse, and test all the controls, including wipers and lights Turn the radio and air-conditioning off and open the windows to ensure there are no unusual road noises. You should be able to switch between gears smoothly without any grinding noises. If the clutch is too stiff or weak that could be a sign of trouble. Test the brakes, including the handbrake.

5) Does the car have a service history?
Ask for a full-service history which should show what maintenance and repairs were done. Also, check the registration documents and service record – does everything match up?

6) Do a history check
Carry out a comprehensive history check through online websites, for example, Motorcheck, Cartell etc. This can show if a vehicle has been written off, clocked or if it has outstanding finance.

7) Know your rights
If you buy privately, while it can save you some money up front, you won’t have the same legal protection as you would if buying from a dealer. Legally, the car only needs to meet the minimum requirements to be driven on public roads and to be owned by the seller. But you are responsible for ensuring the car is of satisfactory quality and is fit for purpose before you buy it. If something goes wrong you should make contact with the seller as soon as possible. If you bought from a dealer you will be protected under law and the car must be fit for purpose, of satisfactory quality, and match its description.


Geraldine Herbert
21st May 2019

Author: Geraldine Herbert

Motoring Editor and Columnist for the Sunday Independent and editor of wheelsforwomen. Geraldine is also a regular contributor to Good Housekeeping (UK), EuroNews and to RTÉ, Newstalk, TodayFM, BBC Radio and Vigin Media. You can follow Geraldine on Twitter at @GerHerbert1

Share This Post On