10 questions to ask before buying a used car

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Don't let your dream used car turn an expensive nightmare by asking these all important questions before signing on the dotted line

The demand for used cars has increased considerably during the 12 months with more UK drivers anxious to snap up cheap vehicles as an alternative to public transport amidst the current pandemic.

It's important to keep in mind that there's few things you need to do before handing over your cash, all of which involve asking the right questions to avoid making any expensive mistakes.

Here at Hitachi Personal Finance, we have put together the top 10 questions you need to ask before buying a used motor.

Is this car free of finance?

If you buy a car with outstanding finance then, unfortunately, it will still belong to the finance company - even if you paid the seller outright for it. It’s always worth doing a quick check on GOV.UK for peace of mind.

Do you have all the legal documents?

For a car to be sold, all legal documents must be up to date and available such as the logbook, MOT certificate, and service history. If the seller cannot show you these then there’s a possibility that’s it’s not theirs to sell, so it would be best to not peruse the sale further.

Has the car been stolen or written off?

In these cases, you may not know what damage has been caused to the car and not all incidents are recorded. It’s best to ensure it has a full history to put your mind at ease.

How many previous owners has this car had?

A car has swapped hands more than a handful of times in a short space of time then it could be suspicious. There’s a possibility that something is wrong with it that you’re not aware of.

Will I be able to drive this car home?

If you’re told yes then this implies that everything is in order from the car working to the paperwork being correct. If it turns out that this isn’t correct, then the seller is in breach of contract.

Has this car had any bodywork repair?

If the answer is yes, enquire what has been repaired and ask for evidence to back this up. If you have been told no but there are inconsistencies with body panels being different shades or large gaps, this indicates that car has been badly repaired after an incident so it’s best to be aware in these circumstances.

Does the car have a warranty?

If the car you are buying is less than a few years old, then in may still be under the manufacturer’s warranty. If not, for an added fee, you may be able to purchase additional warranty if buying through a dealership. If you opt for this, be sure to read the small print and fully understand what is covered.

Does this car have all the right keys?

If the car doesn’t come with the original keys (check the paperwork to see if they match), then you may be able to haggle on the price.

Can I test drive the car?

Nearly all sellers will allow you to test drive before purchase. Try to go for a longer drive on dual carriageways or country roads rather than just around the block. You’re more likely to see if there is anything wrong this way. If they say no – walk away.

What mileage is on the clock?

The lower the better but beware if the seller tells you that the car was only used one a week by an elderly lady to go to the shops yet there’s 100K on the clock – something’s not right. Alternatively, if the mileage is suspiciously low for the age of the car, this may indicate that it has been tampered with.

Remember, there are plenty of used cars out there, so if something doesn’t feel right, walk away.

If you’ve found your next car and need a hand, Hitachi Personal Finance offers low-cost car loans starting from just 3.5% APR Representative between £7,500 and £25,000.

Hitachi Hints and Tips is intended to be informative and interesting. It does not constitute financial advice, and you should always do further research when making any financial decisions. All information was correct at date of publication.

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