Thinking of buying a used car? Here’s what you need to know

May 24, 2021

Buying a used car can be a daunting task, there is always a certain amount of risk involved. But, if you know where to go and what to look for, you should have nothing to worry about, and could even save yourself a bit of money. To help you, we’ve put together the following tips that should reduce your risk, and give you peace of mind.

  • Check the car’s history. There are a number of companies that can check the history of a car for you for a fee. This check can tell you if the car was ever crashed or written-off, any official record of the car’s mileage and if there is outstanding finance on the car.
  • Get an independent mechanic to check out the car, especially if you are buying from a private seller. Unlike buying from a dealer, when you buy privately you don’t have consumer rights.
  • Is the mileage correct? When you’re paying for a car, you should ask the seller to write the mileage, as displayed on the odometer, on your receipt. That way you have a record of the mileage the seller claimed was on the car if you find out later it has been clocked. If they are unwilling to do this, you should consider walking away. Clocking means changing the genuine odometer reading of the car in order to make the car seem like it has been driven less than it actually has. Buying a clocked car can be both dangerous and costly, so be sure to check a used car out properly before you buy it.
  • Your rights if things go wrong. If you buy a used car from a dealer you have rights under consumer law. However, if you buy a car from a private seller, you do not have consumer rights, because the person selling the car is not selling it as a trader. Therefore, it is important that you understand who you are buying from. Disguised traders are people who pose as private sellers but in fact make a living from selling cars, usually online. If they are selling a number of cars at once, this could indicate they are a disguised trader and not a private seller. The difference is important when it comes to your consumer rights if something goes wrong later.

Find out more about what checks to carry out on a used car and what questions to ask the seller using our car buyer’s checklist.

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