A guide to finding the perfect used car

Written by Nigel Simpkins

With the increasing cost of living, many of us are having to tighten our belts, especially when it comes to bigger purchases like cars. Most new cars lose around 40% of their value in the first year so buying used is a great way to keep your driving costs down. If you are looking for your next car and are considering buying a used car here are some things to look out for. 


When considering whether to buy a new or used car, your budget is likely to play one of the biggest roles in your decision. New cars tend to cost more than comparable used cars and if you find that you have a little more left in your budget, you might find that you can get a higher-spec used car for the same amount as you were willing to spend on a new one.

Where To Buy

While driveways traders and cars at auction can be tempting due to their lower price, unless you know what to look for when it comes to car maintenance, you may want to avoid them. However, if you are a keen mechanic, driveway traders and auctions can be a great place to get a bargain as you will know how to fix any issues that may arise.

For those of us who aren’t confident with how to fix up cars, you may want to opt to buy a used car from a garage or main dealer. Here, used cars will be put through a rigorous inspection and will come with a warranty which is great for peace of mind.

Car Checks

There are a few key things to be aware of before buying a used car.

When it comes to tyres, you should look to see how much tread they have. The legal minimum is 1.6mm so if the tread is any less than 3mm you will need to factor in the cost of changing them soon which can be expensive for some models. You should also check for any chips in the windscreen as if they turn into cracks your windscreen will need replacing. If the chips are in the driver’s eye line the car also won’t pass its MOT. 

There are plenty of other things to consider too including upholstery damage, general wear and tear and oil and fluid checks but as long as you know what you are looking for you should be good to go! It’s also worth taking someone with you for a second opinion or getting a vehicle inspection if you aren’t confident in what to look out for.

Test Drive

You should always take a car on a test drive before you buy it as there is a range of things to be aware of regarding the functioning of the vehicle. These include but are not limited to the engine and suspension, the steering and brakes and the clutch and gears. You should see how you feel driving the car around and if it suits your needs, from being able to reach the controls easily to boot storage space – this will be your new car so make sure it feels right for you!