In this buying a used car shoppers guide, according to Citizens Advice, there were over 84,000 complaints in 2015 regarding used car purchases. Typically, the buyer finds that the car needs a costly repair that was not disclosed at the time of purchase.

Worse, in around 5 percent of sales, the car is so bad off that it the previous owner should have scrapped it. In this post, we’ll tell you how to be a savvy used car shopper in 2017.

Buying A Used Car Shoppers Guide, What to Buy

Check your budget and decide on how much car you can afford. Don’t overspend. If you do, you will put yourself in a tight spot because future maintenance costs are inevitable.

A car with a manual transmission will be cheaper than a similar model with an automatic transmission, but these days, you may have to hunt around for a mechanic that can service it.

Similarly, a V8 or similar big-engine car may be cheaper in 2017 as a greater emphasis is placed on fuel efficiency, but you have to consider gas mileage, taxes and insurance. Once all is said and done, a cheap gas guzzler could cost you thousands more than a fuel efficient car.

Inspecting a Used Car

Having an eye for the telltale signs of a clunker can save you a lot of time and money. Used car dealers will claim that all of their cars are thoroughly inspected before being put up for sale, but why take their word for it?

Both the inside and outside condition of the car affect its value. Carefully inspect the upholstery for stains and ragged fibres. If the car has been in an accident, your dealer should tell you. Inspect these repairs for chips or dings.

Next, check the car for leaks. This means getting eye-level with the ground with a flashlight so you can look under the engine.

Leaks are always a red flag.

On a test drive, pull over and let the car idle for thirty seconds. Then pull forward a few car lengths so you can check for fluid drips.

Finally, if you can afford it, always have your mechanic inspect the car for you prior to purchase. The initial cost can be well worth it if it saves you from even costlier repairs down the road. Plus, your mechanic should be able to tell you whether the car would pass its next MoT inspection as-is.

Did you know that with website yesmechanic.com, you can find reviews from other motorists who rate mechanics near you? YesMechanic is absolutely free for UK residents, so why not give it a try today?

Buying from a Dealer

Try to do business with a dealer who is a member of a trade association. This means— in theory—that they abide by a strict code of conduct. Buying from a dealership is generally more expensive than buying from an individual.

But when you do, you gain the protections provided by the Sale of Goods Act. Namely, the car must match its description and must be road worthy. If you find a major defect with the car right after purchase, you can ask for your money back.

Going the Private Route

If you prefer to buy from a private seller, you have many options. You can participate in an online auction, consult a service like Craigslist, or check the newspaper.

As mentioned, you will probably get a cheaper price than you would if you went to a dealership, but you have fewer protections. Most often, you will see the car listed as “as is” or “as described.” This means they aren’t providing a warranty or guarantee of any kind. It’s up to you to make sure the car is in good condition.

Note: if a private seller doesn’t let you inspect the car at their place of residence, this is a red flag. If there’s a problem with the car they didn’t disclose, you might not find them again.

Is it Stolen?

    Here are the warning signs:

  • No MoT certificate or history
  • No vehicle registration document (V5C)
  • The V5C is present, but it doesn’t have a watermark or has numerous spelling/grammar mistakes
  • The car’s VIN numbers don’t match what’s on the V5C
  • The seller can’t produce proof of insurance

Online Checks

You should be able to get an AA Car Data Report for most used cars. This check will alert you to any past accidents. Shop around. Don’t buy a used car that has been in an accident, even if the owner assures you that all damage was repaired.

Even something seemingly minor like a busted windscreen is a big deal. The factory windscreen provides a perfect seal that a replacement windscreen can’t match. Replacement windscreens are consequently more prone to chips and cracks.

After You’ve Paid

Always keep copies of the advertisement that drew your eye. In that advertisement is a description of the car, and as mentioned, this description must match the actual condition of the vehicle.

Beware of signing any document that states you have inspected the car and found it without fault. When the sale goes through, you and the seller will fill in the V5C form, and the seller will send theirs to the DVLA.

Make sure the seller gives you the “new keeper” section of the document. You’ll need this to get insurance and a MoT exam if one is due. Speaking of which, you should be given the car’s most recent MoT certificate immediately after the sale.

Why not try YesMechanic? It’s free, for UK motorists.