James Baggott

Top tips for buying used cars - what to check?

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Morning all

Following the success of the last post, I'd wonder if you'd be so kind as to help me with you top tips on what to look out for when buying a used car?

Any help or advice you could share would be hugely appreciated.

I hope you're all well and enjoying being back at work

James

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I think there are different rules for different car types, for example the small aygo c1 107 family have a tendency to be bought by mothers of small children as second cars or first time drivers, so the first thing i check for when looking at them are dents in the roof where they sit there child whilst checking facebook ( i kid you not) and first time drivers hammering clutches.

Apart from specific known car faults the basics i tend to cover are screen scratches chips always expensive to put right, nasty smells and signs of previous bad repairs, cars with built in radios I am also keen on as there a nightmare to get repaired or swap out. 

Think this list could go on forever 

 

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Think you might struggle with this one James, it does take many years of experience, (top tips ? Sounds like edd China :lol:).

Stand back, walk round if space allows, looking for colour panel match ( if space is at a premium stop on the test drive in a more open space) compare any noises you are not sure of with another of same model, matching tyres are always a nice sign, especially if they are good make, interiors are quite rugged on modern cars  so use your nose and your eyes here, check all the controls, especially if the car has something that you need (eg air con ?  ) check the roof, always check the roof :(.

And a dam good tyre kick does no harm.

 

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I'll probably get shot down for it but DO YOUR OWN HPI CHECK. As in, the proper £20 job, not the £10 basic check, nor any other companies offering a similar thing but cheaper. In addition to the actual check, there's a guarantee that if the check doesn't reveal an anomoly (for example, log book finance owing which doesn't show up) they'll cover your loss. It will appear poor value for money on a cheap car - but these are the ones most likely to have something to find. And for an expensive car, you have more to lose.

Also - might sound counterintuitive - don't dismiss a car with a "high" Auto Trader price marker. The reason is, dealers know how much their car is worth and with the internet age, it is very rare to find a dealer just adding a bit onto their cars in a hope. The high price marker will be for a reason, for example it has certain desirable (but not picked up by the price marker) options or colour; or its simply a great car which has led a trouble-free life. Obviously, its a handy feature for buyers but understand why it is what it is. This also applies to cars with a "low" marker - in the new normal of mostly doing the transaction online, it could very well be that the condition/bodywork is generally poor (it is very difficult to accurately gauge bodywork/paintwork condition over the internet, and very easy to choose not to photograph imperfections!)

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Wherever possible I like to watch/ hear the vehicle starting......pre corrona auction days....have been caught out few times   buying a poor starter, which can mean an expensive repair like fuel pump.     Not always possible to see them start if your busy looking around, but it does help.     The trained eye can easily spot  dodgy paint/panels etc. 

 

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Signs the previous owner ran on a shoestring, tyres are often a clue (e.g. random selection of Chinese tyres). HVAC works (can be costly to put right). Scruffy/smelly interior. I don't buy 'automated-manual' cars (like Honda iShift or Toyota MMT etc).  If its DSG then check operation - obviously assumes you can road test the car.

After 40 years I can quickly spot paint and panel problems.

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Mot histories, a good mot history that shows no gaps in months / years, particularly if a mot was due to expire in 10th nov was it done on or before the 10th nov ?  could show a caring owner, gaps of days / months might imply something else, advisories, not to be over cautious on these, it is the opinion of the tester at the time looking at a second hand product, everything wears, but not to the point of failing, and a advisory may have been dealt with one week after advise.

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Compare the vin number with the hpi check / logbook,  not just the vin number in window, research the car your looking at and find out where the other numbers are, especially important if your buying private! Which you should never do ! ;)

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Do your research check the tyres panel gaps paint colour match etc and the mike brewer favourite check for matching dealer number plates though the owner could always just pop into to arnold clark and buy some with the correct  id after the car was returned from the body-shop so although in  principle a good idea not fool proof way of telling anything . 

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If looking at a private then you often “buy the owner” as much as the car. Evidence of regular maintenance and things being done when they need to be. Service history always a good indicator. Best we had was a Grade 3 Mini that was really Grade 1/2 but no history But limited owners. Quick few phone calls and turns out it had been main dealer serviced annually for 10 yrs.

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Door edges are a sure fire way of noting a cared for car , from a car used purely as a conveyance.

Scuffed wheels/wheel trims is another ie badly scuffed.

Finger fat on the interior switches,trims, steery wheel if not valeted, shows it was owned by some fat tart/or geezer that sweated a lot,avoid these cars at all costs as the seats will be saggy too:lol: 

 

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