Six vital checks that could save you £5,500 when buying a used car, including top tyre tip

EXPERTS have shared six vital checks you must make when buying a used car to save up to £5,500, including a top tyre tip.

Skipping the basic inspection could see you end up with a dud motor and having to shell out big money on repair bills after the fact.

Motor experts have shared six checks you must make before buying a used car


Motor experts have shared six checks you must make before buying a used carCredit: Alamy

Dorry Potter from National Scrap Car urged Brits to take care when buying a used car.

Her easy checks are free to carry out and could save you from dodgy dealers and dishonest sellers.

First of all, Dorry recommended checking over the car for any bumps, scrapes or scratches.

This could indicate that it has previously been involved in an accident.

Make sure any joins in the car are straight and that the bodywork is level and not distorted.

Pay particular attention to the front and rear windscreen to see if there are any chips or cracks in the glass.

These can cost upwards of £100 to fix so it’s worth making sure the pane is in good condition.

Secondly, have a look at the paintwork and make sure it is evenly applied and not too badly worn.

Uneven painting could be a sign of covering up scraps and marks, while any exposed metal could leave you open to a true car-killer: rust.

A full respray can set you back over £2,000 so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

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Likewise, any bubbling in the paint could be a sign of rust underneath.

If it takes hold of the chassis, the motor may have to be written off altogether.

Thirdly, make sure the lights and all the electronics are in good working order.

Not only can driving with broken or dim lights lead to a £60 fine, they can also cost up to £60 each to replace.

Headlamps and rear brake lights are particularly important on this check.

Next, Dorry recommended taking a good look at the tyres for signs of wear and tear.

The legal minimum tread depth is 1.6mm across three-quarters of the tyre surface so check it at multiple points across the rubber.

You can use a tread gauge for an accurate reading or get a rough idea using a 20p piece.

Place the coin in the tread and if the raised rim is still visible, the tread is too shallow.

And, given that high-end tyres can set you back as much as £700, a thorough examination is certainly warranted.

It’s important to not rush through the checks and inspections so that you know exactly how safe and reliable the car is

Dorry Potter

Another essential area to check is the gearbox.

Issues are a lot less visible than, say, paintwork or windscreen problems but can be even more deadly to your car.

Ensure that the transmission fluid is topped up and that there are no clunking or whining sounds coming from it.

Other signs of trouble could be a burning smell in the cabin or gears slipping as you drive.

Finally, Dorry emphasised that, for all the exterior problems to watch out for, the interior is just as important.

Keep an eye out for any mould or mildew, as well as stains or torn upholstery.

Excessive condensation can also be a warning that the ventilation in the vehicle is poor.

You could even get a torch out and give the undersides of the seats a check for extra peace of mind.

Six checks you must make before buying a used car

  1. Look out for dents or bumps in the bodywork
  2. Check the paint for cracks, scratches and bubbles
  3. Make sure the lights all work
  4. Check the tyre tread and pressure
  5. Make sure the gearbox is in good condition
  6. Give the interior a thorough examination

All in all, Dorry’s list could save you as much as a combined £5,5000.

She said: “From the more affordable price to flexibility of choice and lower insurance, buying a used car is often a very attractive alternative for many people. 

“While you may want to ride off into the sunset in your second-hand car, it’s important to not rush through the checks and inspections so that you know exactly how safe and reliable the car is… as well as knowing exactly what you’re paying for. 

“Even though car dealers are likely to have thoroughly checked the vehicle, it’s important to check the car out yourself so that no hidden costs come out further down the line.”


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