What should my pre-purchase checks be?

Buying a car is an exciting time and should be an enjoyable process. To make sure it’s as pleasurable as possible, it’s worth carrying out these simple and easy checks before you pay.

  • Do I have everything?
    Make sure the car is of advertised specification with the right equipment and 'extras'. Mistakes can happen, so be certain the car meets all of your needs to ensure a happy start to the ownership experience.
  • Have I checked the small print?
    Read and double-check the small print. Make sure you also read the details of any warranty carefully so you know what is included and what will be regarded as wear and tear items.
  • Do I have all the information?
    If you have bought a car with a service plan included, read through all of the  information so you know what is covered. It will also state what work, labour or materials you will be expected to pay for over and above what’s included in the service scheme.
  • Is the seller being honest?
    When buying a used car, the seller is obliged to describe the car honestly, which covers the make, model, engine, specification and any known defects. If you’re not confident the seller is being honest, you should either walk away from the deal or have the car inspected by an Independent mechanic. This may cost you some money but could save you a lot of expense further down the road.
  • Have I checked the history?
    Use the car's registration to carry out a vehicle history check online before going to view it. Most reputable used car dealers will have already had the car’s history checked when they bought the car, but it’s worth doing it yourself for peace of mind. It only costs a small amount, so it’s a wise investment to know the car’s real background and if it’s been in an accident or has finance still owing on it.
  • Have I cross-referenced the documentation?
    Many companies offer a history check online which will confirm the car’s make, model, engine, original date of registration and colour. You can cross reference this with the car’s V5 registration document. If any of the details from the history check don’t tally with the registration document, you should be very wary of buying such a car.
  • Have I looked online?
    Look up the make and model on the DVSA (Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency) website for recalls. A recall is when the car’s maker asks owners to bring the car back to a dealer for work to rectify a potential problem. These recalls are quite common and nothing to worry about so long as the work has been carried out. Using the VOSA website to look up any recalls for your chosen car, you can then check this against the car’s service history.

Extra Easy Buyers' Checklist.

Why not download and print our Extra Easy Buyers' Checklist (PDF, 42KB) to help you know what to look for and to get the best deal?


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