How Can I Buy a Used Car Safely?

Buying a car can make you feel so many emotions at once. You’re happy, excited, anxious, and sometimes daunted by the thought of making a big purchase decision. 😫 If you’re looking to buy a brand new car, there’s not really a lot to think about in terms of the condition of the vehicle since you’ll be the first one to use it. However, if you’re going for a used car, then you have to prepare for a few extra steps to ensure you’re getting a car in good condition and with all the right documents. So, how can you buy a used car safely? Here’s how!

Know Your Financial Situation

Buying a car is among the most important decisions you’re going to make because it involves a substantial amount of money. Before making the purchase, ensure you’ve already worked out your finances, especially if you’re getting a personal loan or car financing. 

Know how much you can afford for the deposit as well as the amount you can safely set aside for the monthly instalments. It’s good to have all these things prepared so that when you’re at the dealership, you can confidently provide your answer when the salesperson inquires about your budget for the car purchase.

Learn the Market Prices for Used Cars

What’s great about buying a used car these days is that you don’t have to go from one dealership to the next just to check the prices. You can do your research on the market prices without even leaving your home. All you need is your smartphone or computer and the internet. 

Check the websites of dealerships around your area so you’ll have an idea of the price range of the car you’re looking to buy. It’s also a good way to know which car dealers have the best offers. Apart from the dealership websites, you might also want to read customer reviews so you’ll know the experiences of previous car buyers at a particular dealership. 

Diligently Check All Paperwork

If you’re buying a secondhand vehicle, it’s crucial to take all the necessary steps when it comes to checking the car’s documents. Whether you’re buying from a dealership or a private seller, keep in mind that a thorough check may save you from a lot of problems later on. 

You may want to start by making sure that the individual selling the car is the listed keeper on the V5C logbook. From the same logbook, you may then check the chassis and registration numbers and see that they are the same on the vehicle. 

After that, go through the service record to check for any discrepancies. Check receipts that establish and prove ownership, and also the documents that state that the car is no longer in any finance agreement. Furthermore, you should conduct an HPI check (easily done on line for a small fee) if you want to be certain that the car has no hidden history or outstanding finance. If you're in need of finance, some companies will check this for you for free. 

Inspect the Car Thoroughly

When inspecting the vehicle, it’s best to do it in the daytime when the weather’s good and there’s sufficient light. When it’s raining, for example, you won’t be able to see any flaws in the car’s paintwork. Torchlight and street lamps won’t provide you with ample lighting to clearly see the details of the vehicle. 

While you’re inspecting the car, take as much time as you need so you can look at every part. For older vehicles, you could expect that they may have some odd scuffs so you’d have to be extra patient in doing all the checks.  Don’t forget to check the air conditioning as well as the electric windows. 

Remember that even if it’s a used car and it’s more affordable than a brand new one, it’s still an expensive purchase. You’d want to be sure that you’re getting your money’s worth. 

If you have a friend who is a trusted mechanic, ask them to come along to help you, or you can ask organisations such as the AA or RAC to check a car over before you finally decide. The small cost may be worth it in the long run.

Test Drive the Car

At this point, you may already have your top three cars and you may even already have one that you’re eyeing to buy. But before you make any decisions, see to it that you take the car for a test drive. Check that you’re insured first before you drive another vehicle though so you won’t break the law. 

You may have already visually inspected the vehicle inside out but you would want to know how well it performs during an actual drive. Take mental notes of every single step and how the car reacts to your driving. For example, are there any issues in starting the car? Do you hear any weird sounds that the car shouldn’t be making? Is it easy to steer? Check all these things while you’re test driving the vehicle.  Take your time.


It’s an exciting time when you’re shopping for a car. 😃 Remember not to get carried away when you spot a beautiful vehicle. As much as you want to drive it home immediately, remind yourself to take your time. Assess every part of the car inside and out. Go through all the documents relating to the vehicle, especially if you’re buying from a private seller. 

If some details don’t match or if the seller is not co-operative when you ask to see the paperwork, it’s best to walk away even if you really like the car. It’s just not worth putting yourself in a situation where you’re going to face problems later on. Any honest seller would be willing to help you perform all the checks necessary so you’ll have peace of mind in your purchase decision.