You need to ensure that a seller has all the right documents to give to you after a sale; these should include records of recent MOTs and the service history of a car, as well as any receipts if it’s received repairs after an accident.
Getting a used car means being careful to avoid some common mistakes when it comes to the condition of engines, the performance and handling of a car, and to its limit status; it’s important, then, to run through a number of different checks before you can make a financial commitment to a used car, and that you don’t rush into any decisions without getting a second opinion if you’re unsure. Cooper BMW share here some of the main things to check for when buying a used car:
Records and Documents
You need to ensure that a seller has all the right documents to give to you after a sale; these should include records of recent MOTs and the service history of a car, as well as any receipts if it’s received repairs after an accident. Records of insurance claims can also be useful, as can the car’s logbook, and a copy of its Vehicle Identification Number.
Look for any obvious signs that a car’s body has had work done to it – check for paint problems, which might include one colour coming through under a new paint job. You should also check for joining marks that might indicate that a car’s body has been welded together; these can be difficult to spot, so make sure you do a thorough inspection, or get someone to help you.
Test a Car’s Tyre Pressure
It’s important to see whether or not a car has the right tyres, and whether their tread depth is correct – you can use a tread depth gauge to test this, and should compare this to specifications laid out in a manual for a particular model. Also, check for any problems with individual tyres, which can include scratches and small holes, as well as for any differences in terms of air pressure between tyres.
Inspect the engine of a used car for signs of oil leaks and fluid problems – see whether there’s any buildup of sludge around the engine, and look at the engine head gasket for signs of wear and tear. Coolant, brake fluid, and windscreen wiper levels should also be tested.
Make sure that all lights come on when triggered, and that a used car doesn’t have any blown fuses that need to be replacing. Look at wiring, and check for any signs of where it’s been soldered back together in a way that might cause problems in the future; ensure that you run the air conditioning and test any electric windows.
You want to make sure that seatbelts respond properly, and don’t get caught when you try to pull them; evidence of fraying and stretching on a seatbelt might suggest that they’ve been permanently damaged due to an accident.
Look for Clocking Signs
There may be cases where a used car has been clocked, which means that the mileage has been adjusted to make it seem like a car has been driven less miles than it has – this is relatively straightforward to spot if you find a worn out car with a suspiciously low mileage.
Test Drive and Meet the Seller in Person
When buying a used car privately, get someone to go along with you, and go for a test drive – listen out for any unusual noises that might indicate problems, and get a second opinion before you make a purchase. Alternatively, consider looking around an approved used dealership, where you’re more likely to get a complete record of services, as well as replacement parts and better financing offers.
Olivia is a BMW enthusiast and recommends Cooper BMW Dealers when buying a new or used BMW. She can be found online blogging about different topics such as enthusiast rallies, general maintenance, and automotive industry news