Checklist for Buying a Car

It can be stressful buying a car, especially if you don’t know much about motor vehicles. We have compiled a checklist that will help you remember things to check and ask when buying a car.

  1. CAN I SEE THE CAR’S SERVICE HISTORY? The service history gives you an ideas of what work has been carried out on the car and how well it has been looked after. If the car doesn’t have service history, ask to see receipts for any work that has been carried out on the car. If you are buying through a private seller, someone may say (for example) that the head gasket has been changed. But, if there is no proof, then assume it hasn’t been.
  2. CAN I SEE THE CAR’S MOT CERTIFICATES? If the vehicle is over three years old, it is a legal requirement for the car to have an MOT if it is on the road. There are a couple of really useful websites where you can check the MOT status of a car https://www.gov.uk/check-mot-status and it’s MOT history https://www.gov.uk/check-mot-history. You will need the vehicle’s make and registration number for this.
  3. WHAT IS THE CAR’S MILEAGE? Remember to think about how many services it has had compared to the mileage. Some parts are recommended to be changed after so many miles. Has this been done? There may be other common faults or failures for vehicles over a certain mileage. Do your research and find out if the work has been done on the car you are considering.
  4. CAN I SEE PROOF OF IDENTITY AND OWNERSHIP? Check whether the car at the seller’s home address matches the one on the V5C document.
  5. CAN I INSPECT THE CAR? Always perform internal and external checks on the vehicle. You should check everything from the paint work and tyres to the car’s upholstery and electronics (see points further down). If you’re not comfortable checking the car yourself, we offer a vehicle inspection service (prices vary depending on location and date).
  6. CAN I INSPECT THE CAR’S PAPERWORK? Always ask for the original V5C document; do not accept copies. This will allow you to whether the VIN matches the V5C.
  7. CAN I TEST-DRIVE THE CAR? This is especially important when buying through a private seller and not a dealer. Test driving the vehicle will give you the opportunity to check every aspect of the car & ensure you are entirely satisfied with the vehicle and enjoy driving it.
  8. HAS IT EVER BEEN REPAINTED? If so, why? Was there rust? Has it previously been in an accident? If so, how serious and was it categorised?
  9. ARE THERE ANY SIGNS OF SMOKING OR PETS? This can seriously devalue a car. Keep an eye out for any damage that may have occurred (i.e. burn holes in the seats, smoke stains, rips in the seats etc.)
  10. DO ALL THE WINDOWS AND LOCKS WORK? You really want these to be working for your own safety and security. If they don’t, not only is it not safe but it will cost you to put it right.
  11. DO ALL THE LIGHTS, WIPERS AND STEREO WORK? Again, another safety issue. You don’t want to be driving the car home and then have visibility issues due to the lights not working at night or the wipers unable to keep the rain off the window.
  12. DO THE INDICATORS AND CRUISE CONTROL WORK? Safety, safety, safety! You don’t want to drive the car home when the people around you can’t see when you’re turning and where. Yes, it may be ‘just’ a replacement bulb but A) It still isn’t safe to drive if it’s not working B) It is still an MOT failure to have a white indicator bulb or for the indicators not to be working C) How sure are you that is it just a bulb and not something costlier?