Ultimate Checklist to Buying a Used Car – (Update 2022)

If you make the right decision at this moment, it will help you travel on a profitable path. The very first step is deciding where you want to buy the vehicle in the UK, followed by a used car check and pre-purchase inspection.

Why should you opt for a used car instead of buying a brand new car?

Both new and used cars have different benefits. We’ve outlined below the pros and cons of buying a used car.

Buying a used car:


While buying a used car, there are a million ways to get scammed. If you are a little careless in inspecting your vehicle, your investment will be useless.

We will tell you the safest way to buy a used car to stay on the good track. You should consider some essential checks before purchasing a used car.

Although there are some genuine private sellers and dealers, vehicle auction showrooms, or even vehicle auction sites available in the market, we should be cautious before deciding. And many used car sellers will not provide reassurance of a warranty nor give you finance and part-exchange offer. Live and online car auctions are more standard practices.

But, you are required to check whether vehicles have been taxed, whether they have any outstanding finance, a mileage discrepancy, written off or scrapped, etc.

Buying from a dealer and independent garage:

Buying a used car from a dealer or trader is really easy to buy compared to privately because we should have excellent car knowledge. A trader can range from a solo person buying and selling cars to a franchised dealer selling new and nearly new vehicles.

The main difference between trader and dealer is the preparation and after-sale support.

Buying a car from the dealer will bump up your cost due to their vast business setup.
Buying a car from a trader will reduce higher upfront costs. But there are more possibilities to hide the car’s actual condition, which costs you more to repair your vehicle.

Pro Tip: As per the Road Traffic Act 1988, no one can sell a motor vehicle or trailer in an unroadworthy condition.

How to pay for a second-hand car from a dealer?

Once you’ve found the right fit for you and the deal is done with you and the dealer, the following process is paying for it.

The seller will want to see cleared funds before accepting a cheque from the bank before you take the car away.

A banker’s draft will be quicker, but you’ll have to pay some extra fee. Instead, you can transfer the money by online banking, or telephone banking will work much faster.

Before transferring funds, please make sure that you are satisfied with our car purchasing.

Alert: Important check to be wary of online selling scams and carefully research the seller thoroughly.

Pros and cons of purchasing a used car:

The used car market is trending and giving lots of options to buyers. As everyone knows, the shortage of semiconductors is reflected in the hike in used cars sales. However, the used car is better for a motorist who loves to drive trendy cars within the budget.

  1. Brand new models are expensive to tax and register – Whereas the second-hand car has a depreciation factor that makes you buy the vehicle within your planned budget. You can find high-spec model cars on your budget rather than going for a new car.

  2. Used cars loan amount is payable compared to new cars – However, it depends on the terms of loans; you can get lower monthly payments compared to taking the financial help for the brand new cars.

  3. Find the used car with the various features – It means the vehicle comes along with the already existing technology and gadgets. Even if they got repaired, you could easily track the spare parts for your used cars. It can be quite expensive in new cars to design the gadgets.

The coin always has two sides- the cons of purchasing the used car can be:

  1. Don’t have warranty – It would be tough to find whether the last owner provides the regular service or suspicious activities. Thus, a vehicle history check has to be considered when you choose to buy a used car. Know more about used car warranty.

  2. New car models can select the features, colour and other accessories – You can be unsatisfied as the used cars might miss one or two of your expectations. But, do shop around for getting your preferred cars.

What physical inspections should be done on a car?

Here are a few checklists when you view the car.

  • Tyres– Ensure your tyre tread is within the legal limit, which is 1.6mm as a legal minimum and below 3 mm is a warning to change soon.

  • Dents and scratches– Inspect a car, including the bodywork and signs of limitation on the wheels. Ignore the small dents and scratches but can use them to negotiate the car price.

  • Panel gaps– Check the panel gaps. If it is large, it could be a sign that the car can be badly repaired after the crash and ensure there is no colour difference between panels. Check whether the windscreen has any cracks or need to be replaced.

  • Fluid levels– Check the oil, brake, and power steering fluid levels. If they’re low, it is a sign of poor service. And also, check the oil leaks under the bonnets. Check the oil cap as there is a sign if the head gasket would have failed, and check the coolant expansion tank looks clean.

  • Electrics– Turn on or off the radio, air-conditioning. Even the fault is minor, but it helps to negotiate. Check whether there are any stains or tears in the seats or smell odd.

  • Spare wheel and accessories– Does the car have a spare wheel? Other accessories like a jack for lifting the vehicle, if it got punctured, adapter for locking wheel nuts fitted to the vehicle.

  • Wear and tear– Second-hand cars usually have a certain amount of wear and tear. But is it consistent with age and mileage? You should get alarmed when the low miles on the clock show the heavy wear on the driver’s seat, steering wheel and pedals.

Recommended for you: How often I need to service my car?

What paperwork to check while buying a used car?

It is the seller’s responsibility for showing the complete paperwork to the buyer. The essential papers you should check and vital information to know are:

  1. Vehicle registration document:(V5C Logbook)

    Find the reference number from the car registration document. The V5C logbook shows the keepers details along with any problem or dispute on the vehicle. If you find the seller genuine and mention the logbook is lost, then apply for the replacement through the DVLA V62 form.

    Ensure the vehicle registration document has the ‘DVL watermark’ to identify the real logbook. Also, check the serial number to tell the logbook has been stolen before. Here’s how to find the logbook is genuine.

  2. Find an answer for who is the seller?

    First of all, Whether buying from the dealer or private seller, check the name and address match with the logbook.
    Second, check the other details on the V5C whether it matches the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and engine number. If not, you should enquire about it as there are chances of cloning.

  3. Know the vehicle’s Service history:

    You need to get the evidence of service records from the seller, or you can ask directly about it. Check the service book where it contains the information from date, name, address of the garage, miles covered during servicing, work done, and the cost paid. Nowadays, the service records are maintained digitally. The service is checked for two main reasons- if the car is maintained properly and if the mileage is genuine. Read more about the vehicle service history here.

  4. Check the vehicle’s MOT status:

    As everyone knows, the vehicle needs an MOT once it crosses three years to determine it’s roadworthy. You should check the recent MOT certificates to ensure if there are any issues related to the safety or legal standards. You can check the MOT status online only knowing your chosen used car VRM. Either try it on the gov. uk website, or you can find the MOT status from Car Analytics along with its full history. Once you are satisfied with every inspection, go for the deal and get a receipt as proof of purchase.

    The receipt should hold the details of the buyer and seller like name and address, date of purchase, vehicle specifications, and complete confirmation the seller received the agreed amount for the car.

What are the things to check while test driving?

Once you choose to buy a used car, then it is better to take the car for a test drive.

  1. Helps to identify if there are any dents, cracks or rust on the vehicle’s body and windshield.
  2. Try turn signals and brake lights- if they are working properly.
  3. Hear out if there are any troubling noises like rattling, clicking or whining.
  4. Ensure the seats are comfortable.
  5. Notice how the brakes feel when you come to a complete stop. Check if any noises are signals for rattles or knocks.
  6. Resistance or pulling can signify power steering or suspension problems.
  7. Engine hesitation is a bad signal.
  8. Pay attention to how responsive the car is.

When the test drive goes well, you can run a vehicle background check and don’t forget to get a word with the mechanic about the car. Only buy a used car when you feel it is the best option for you.

What are your rights in buying a used car?

Fault identified with 30 days of purchase: If you identified any mechanical fault in your used car within 30 days of buying from the dealer. If you prefer to repair or replace, the trader or dealer must do this for you reasonably and in a significant time period.

Between 31 days to first six months: If you experienced a fault with the car, still you can appeal for repair or replacement from the trader. If they couldn’t address the problem you are complaining about, you can return or reject the vehicle as well as you can claim a refund. But traders will reduce the refund in terms of fair use.

Between six months to six years: After the period of six months, you’re facing some faults and issues with the car. Unfortunately, you cannot be entitled to the dealer unless you didn’t prove this fault from the day you purchased the used car from the dealer. Even if you confirmed that the fault is from the day of purchase, you could find a reduction in the capital amount after six years of the vehicle’s use.

After the period of six years: You cannot do anything related to a legal remedy under the laws of England and Wales.

Answering your question:

  1. Can the car be sold legally?
    If you’re buying privately in online classifieds sites like gumtree or through the Facebook marketplace, you have to inspect the car with your own eyes before any money transaction.

  2. Why are you selling the car?
    You can start with a simple conversation but keep the seller on the spot by asking specific questions about why they want to sell the car. It will help you sort out and throw up something hidden in the description. Looking to sell your car online? Sell your car for the best price.

  3. Can I drive it home?
    If the seller accepts to drive it home, that indicates it’s fit to drive, has an MOT, and has no known issues that may cause it to break down on the way. If you discover this isn’t the case, the car was not sold as advertised.

  4. Where can I buy a used car at a cheap price?
    Find the cheapest recently reduced second-hand car for you from us. You can choose a car based on review and research. Only buy a used car when you feel it is the best option for you.