Tips for Buying a Used Car

Posted on October 26, 2023

Buying a Used Car – Your 9 Essential Steps

When buying a used car, the safest option is to buy it directly from a car dealership. In doing so, you usually receive a car warranty which protects you in case of any unexpected car problems within the first six months. This means that the garage will pay for any repairs required during this period. However, purchasing a used car from a dealership is usually more expensive than buying a car privately.

tips for buying a used car

Whether you’re buying your used car from a dealership or privately, certain checks must be carried out. Take a look at our list of essential tips for buying a used car below.

Wait for a Dry Day

Before you go to see the car, you need to check the weather forecast. Viewing a car on a wet day means you won’t see dents, scrapes or colour variations as easily. You should also check how the sun reflects off the car. If certain parts of the paintwork seem duller than others, this may indicate that the car has been repaired after an accident.

Check the Hinges

Open the doors and bonnet of the car. The factory-made hinges should be the same colour as the car. If not, it’s very likely that the door or bonnet has been replaced at some stage. Usually, the only reason for these being removed would be following a crash. If you notice that these have been changed and the seller hasn’t told you about an accident, it might be better to back off. Nobody wants the trouble that comes with a crashed car.

Check the Interiors

If you’re lucky enough to find a car that has low mileage, make sure it isn’t too good to be true. Check that the amount of wear and tear on the seats, steering wheel and floor matches the mileage. If you are viewing a car with low mileage but it has worn-looking seats, the likelihood that the car has illegally adjusted mileage is high. Mileage being clocked back was a big problem a few years ago in Ireland, but with the introduction of more computer-based systems in cars, it’s less easy for fraudsters to clock a car. Don’t forget to look at the car’s service history too. You’ll usually be able to see the mileage on the car each time the car receives a service. 

Search for Warning Lights

car warning lights

Check to see if any warning lights appear before taking the car out for a test drive. Red warning lights usually indicate an urgent problem with your car, and you will fail your NCT if these are active. Orange warning lights indicate that something needs to be fixed on the car. However, it may not be as urgent as the red light.

Bring a Mechanic

It’s always a good idea to bring a mechanic with you when buying a used car. For someone who isn’t very knowledgeable about cars, it can be hard to check for engine problems. Having someone with you who knows what they’re doing and can ask the right questions is worth paying a little extra for.

Who’s Selling?

If the seller is describing themselves as a private seller but has more than one car for sale, it might be better to avoid them. A simple internet search of their username or details should bring up any other cars they have for sale. Sellers who are not upfront about their situation are usually untrustworthy.  It’s always a good idea to bring somebody with you when meeting a stranger for the first time, and make sure you’re meeting at a secure location.

Check the Log Book

Check the log book to make sure that the seller’s details match. You should also ask the seller for ID to ensure they are the car’s owner. You can check that the VIN (Chassis Number) on the car matches the VIN on the log book to ensure that the car is not stolen etc.

Car Background Check

When you think you’re ready to buy, doing a quick background check on your car is worthwhile to ensure everything is in order. You can do this online by entering the registration number of the car. A few sites offer this service, including the Irish website: Cartell.ie. This can cost between €10 and €35, but it is well worth the price. It gives detailed reports of the specifications of the car. It also checks if the car has been in any accidents in the past or is a write-off. If you see any differences between how the car is described in the report and how the seller has described it, it might indicate that the car has been illegally modified. It’s worthwhile asking the seller about any of these queries as there could be a valid reason.

Check for Recalls

Ensure the car model hasn’t been subjected to any recalls. If it has, confirm that the necessary repairs were made. You can check for recalls on the manufacturer’s website or through various online databases using the car’s VIN.

Payment Method

Do not pay in cash if you purchase a used car from a private seller. Using a bank draft or bank transfer, you have proof of your transaction in the event of any disagreements.  Banks do not issue bank drafts unless the buyer has enough money in their account. Therefore the seller is guaranteed that the draft will not bounce, unlike a cheque.

Buying a used car can be exciting, but it can also be a stressful time. If you’re worrying whether you’re spending too much or about the car history, it can make the process difficult. However, by following our simple steps, you’ll have a better chance of buying a reliable car with less stress. Most of our steps are simple and free of charge. Spend extra time making your decision and shop for the best deal. But remember, the best deal doesn’t always mean the lowest price.

What are some excellent used cars to buy in 2023?

There are some fantastic second-hand cars to buy in Ireland which are known for being reliable, efficient and practical even when they’ve had a few previous owners, such as the Toyota Corolla, Ford Focus, Volkswagen Golf and Hyundai i10.

If you are thinking of changing your car, why not check out our article on choosing Hybrid or Electric Cars. To get a car insurance quote for your new car, contact KennCo Insurance at 0818 25 20 25. 

Buying a Used Car FAQs

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