Cars parked at an indoor dealership lot
Via: Car Dealer

Guide: How to Vet a Prospective Vehicle Before Purchasing

If you’re in the market for a car, buying a used vehicle can be a great option. However, it is vital to consider several aspects so that this new acquisition has the best benefits.

For instance, by thoroughly researching the prospective car, you can avoid fraud and get the best possible price, thus ensuring that your investment is worthwhile.

Whether it is your first time, or you have bought used cars before, there is information and tools that can help you choose the right vehicle and the purchasing method that better suits your needs.

As you begin the journey of buying a used car, you may ask questions such as where can I buy used cars? should I buy from a private seller or a used car dealer? Or Can they take my car as part of the down payment and wow do I know if the car is in good condition?

Questions like these and more are part of feeling confident and reassured that this purchase will be satisfactory.

Check Your Finances Before Buying A Car.

Before you look at used cars, it is essential to look at your financial situation for making this purchase. Whether you want to pay cash or buy through financing or even leasing, determine how much you are willing to pay. Then, once you have your budget in mind, analyze which purchasing method is best for you.

Cash vs Financing

If you decide to buy the car outright in cash, in that case, you will pay a fixed amount, and you will take ownership of that vehicle right away. In addition, you can forget about the inconvenience of monthly payments that represent a fixed expense for several months or years.

If you decide to finance it, you will also cover additional costs, such as interest and other charges involved in borrowing money to purchase the car.

When financing a car, you also must determine how much you can spend as a down payment and the amount you will pay monthly during the financing or leasing contract.

Keys being handed to a man and woman in car

Via: Car and Driver 

Things To Consider When Buying A Used Car

When buying a used car, the ideal scenario is to find a prospective vehicle with only one previous owner. This reduces the chances of irregularities and potential problems. In addition, we recommend checking if the car has records of pending claims.

Another crucial step in purchasing a used car is getting a vehicle owner history report. This report is like a window into the car’s past. It provides a wealth of materials to decide whether to buy the vehicle and how much you should pay. We recommend for UK owner reports.

However, perhaps the primary incentive to buy a used car beyond the number of owners it has had is that the vehicle has low mileage.

The mileage shows the wear and tear the car has sustained. A vehicle with higher mileage will probably be more expensive to maintain or repair than a similar vehicle with fewer miles. Also, a car with lower mileage would typically offer better ride quality.

And finally, are the maintenance records. If you don’t have a service history record, you risk buying a used car that hasn’t been maintained or cared for in years.

Things like when the oil was last changed, the tyres were last rotated, or the last time they serviced the battery and brakes.

Man and woman looking at documents next to grey vehicle

Via: Car Buyer 

Buying A Used Car At A dealership vs Private Seller

There are different ways to buy a used car, but without a doubt, the two most common are buying it directly from a reputable dealership or from a private seller. In either case, you must ensure you will get complete car paperwork, including maintenance records.

If you’re buying from a dealership, do some research by checking out comments and reviews from previous customers.

You must also consider used car regulations in your country. These typically establish that dealers must affix a buyer’s guide to all used cars they offer. This buyer’s guide should describe the details of the used car you’re interested in at a glance.

In addition, we recommend you evaluate the asking prices from both a dealership and a private seller and compare them against established used car guides such as Auto Trader.

Keep in mind that the car’s make, model, year, condition, and mileage will affect the price of the vehicle. So, use the information to your advantage when you negotiate with the seller.

When deciding on the car you want to buy, don’t forget to verify that all the documentation is complete. Also, look up the Vehicle Identification Number to ensure someone has not reported the vehicle as stolen.

Get A Mechanical Inspection

Once you have ensured that the vehicle has all its documentation, you must check its mechanical state.

A mechanical inspection should give you a clearer picture of the current shape of the car you are interested in. You can also consider a safety inspection to check that the car’s condition will not risk you and your passengers.

We also recommend driving the vehicle for at least 15 minutes to see how the car drives. And although you could check most of the following points yourself, a mechanic knows best how to check a car that is for sale.

Man inspecting the underside of a car with flashlight

Via: Golden Wrench

Here are 15 things to include in a mechanical inspection before buying a used car:

  1. The car is not damaged or has been involved in a crash
  2. The engine is in good condition and does not make strange noises
  3. That car does not smoke from the exhaust. For instance, if you notice white smoke after a few minutes, this may indicate severe mechanical problems. The same applies if the color of the smoke from the exhaust is grey, bluish, or dark black
  4. The transmission does not jerk or slip gears
  5. The engine oil is not black or streaky and with debris
  6. The brakes do not squeak when braking. Check the condition of the discs, the pads and the correct functioning of the entire braking system
  7. The suspension does not make strange noises while driving
  8. The body does not have bumps or scratches and is not discolored
  9. The frame is not bent
  10. The interior upholstery, carpets and dashboard are in good shape
  11. The lighting system is fully functional, including dash lights, high and low lights, fog lights, turn signals, brake lights, reverse lights, etc.
  12. That the doors close and latch properly
  13. The air conditioning works correctly
  14. The tires are in good condition, preferably with minimum wear, and do not have punctures or patches
  15. The body is aligned correctly; otherwise, you’ll have a structural problem if the car looks slightly lopsided while in motion


When buying a used car, be sure to check the warranty that comes with it. This can be the standard warranty from the manufacturer or some type of extended warranty provided by the dealer.

Besides the car warranties offered by the seller, you may opt for a service contract (extended warranty) for your used car. Having a service contract can be helpful if you feel your current warranty doesn’t provide the level of protection for your car.

The difference between a service contract and a factory warranty is that service contracts have an additional cost. In contrast, dealers include factory warranties in the sale price when the car is new. The duration varies depending on the automaker.

Car pulling out of a used car lot

Via: Car Buyer

Red Flags When Buying A Used Car

Be wary when purchasing a used car if you notice any of the following warning signs:

  • The price of the car is suspiciously low
  • The seller won’t let you see the title
  • There are signs of excessive wear and tear, rust, peeling paint, etc
  • If a private seller only takes cash
  • If a private seller refuses to give you an address and phone number

Know Your Rights

Once you get behind the wheel and feel the joy of driving your car, you’ll want to think that the process is over. You can rest easy, but you may encounter problems or failures that weren’t apparent at purchase. In case something unforeseen arises, such as, for example, damage or issues with the functioning of the car, you have several options.

First, check if the warranty coverage or the service contract is enough to solve the service that your vehicle requires. If the warranty or service contract does not suffice, in that case, you will have to address any problems with your car directly with the seller.

You can also rely on a dispute resolution service between you and the dealer or seller to find a resolution without requiring a lawsuit.  Finally, you can also go to a small claims court if needed. They can give you guidance on the following steps to take.

Man inspecting the underside of a car with flashlight

Via: Motor 1 UK

Compared to a brand new car, purchasing a used vehicle carries a bit more hassle. Still, for some, the process can be more exciting.

In addition, by following the advice listed in this guide, buying a used car can potentially offer more bang for your buck than a new car and the ownership experience can be just as rewarding.