Things to look for when buying a used car

After your home, a car is probably one of the most expensive purchases you will make. For that reason it is important to make some crucial checks. Firstly you should establish that the vehicle you are considering is legal.


Check the vehicle’s V5C Registration document (also known as the logbook), the MOT certificate and service history. The car’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) found in the car or under the bonnet, should match what’s on the the V5C document. The engine number, number plate and colour are all on this document too and should all match the car you are looking at.

Once you are happy these are in order move on to cosmetic and mechanical checks.

General Condition

Look over the bodywork to ensure it has a consistent paint finish. Check for dents, scratches and signs of rust. Make sure you inspect the roof too, especially if the car has a sunroof. Check the tyres for tread depth and even wear, not forgetting the spare.

The engine

Check the general appearance of the engine first then look more closely at the battery terminals and connectors for rust. If you can it’s a good idea to check the oil, water and fluid levels, keeping a look out for any signs of leaks.


Look at the condition of the interior, it should be consistent with the car’s age and mileage. Check everything works especially seat belts, windows, locks, air conditioning and sound system.

Once you’re happy with these checks take it for a test drive. There’s lot’s of useful tips and in depth help online, and are great places for more information.