How to Avoid Car Buying Mistakes

How can you avoid car buying mistakes when shopping for a used car? 🤔 Of course, to avoid having to check a used car for flaws, the best option would be to buy a brand new one. However, some car buyers do prefer secondhand vehicles. There could be so many reasons for this such as the affordability of used cars, they might already have modifications and other improvements, or maybe the buyer only needs a car for a short period. 

No matter what your reasons are, what’s important to remember is that since the vehicle has been used, you will have to do all the necessary checks to ensure that it’s still in good shape. And to help you on your car buying journey, here are the top tips on how to avoid common car buying mistakes. 

Set a Budget for Your Purchase

Buying a car, whether used or brand new, still involves a significant amount of money. It’s crucial to check your finances first before making the decision to make the purchase. Here are some of the questions to ask yourself when setting your budget:

  • Will I pay with cash or get car finance?
  • If I finance a car, can I pay the deposit?
  • Do I have enough income every month to afford the repayments for the whole duration of the contract term?
  • What’s the most I can spend on the repayments?

When you answer these questions, it will become much clearer what your budget for the car will be. It’s also good to prepare the figures in advance because when you’re at the dealership or when applying for car finance, it’s possible that the salesperson will ask you about how much you can spend for repayments each month. 

Also, once you know your budget, you’ll be able to narrow down your choice of cars. You won’t have to spend time checking out a vehicle only to realise you can’t afford it. Set your budget so you can be sure that you won’t overcommit to a car finance agreement and then find yourself having trouble making payments. 

Research About the Market Prices Online

What’s great about buying a car nowadays is you don’t have to visit the showrooms of each dealership in your area just to shop for a car. You can do that online through their virtual showrooms. Doing this will save you a lot of time and effort. 

When buying a vehicle, take enough time to research the market prices, especially if you’re looking at used cars. It’s a good way for you to know your choices that fit your budget. Once you have a shortlist of vehicles, you can then visit the dealership and look at the cars up close and even take them for a test drive. 

Check All Car Documents Thoroughly

If you want to buy a used car, you have to be prepared to be meticulous, not just on checking the car itself, but examining all the documents relating to it as well. Here are some of the details to check:

  • If buying from a private seller, check if the seller is also the listed keeper of the car. 
  • Ask for sales receipts that further prove their ownership. 
  • If the car was on finance, ask for proof that the car finance contract has been completed and there is no remaining balance to be paid.
  • Carry out an HPI check to be sure it's not still subject to a car finance arrangement. 
  • Take a look at the V5C logbook and see if the chassis numbers and logbook registration numbers match those found on the vehicle. 
  • Check the service record for any discrepancies. 

Buying from a trusted used car dealership is usually easier than buying from a private seller. But if you found a car you like through a private seller, it’s crucial to be meticulous in checking all details about the car. And whenever you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask the seller. An honest seller will be happy to answer your questions and provide any documents you request to help you arrive at a decision on whether to buy the car or not.

Inspect Every Part of the Vehicle

The car is made up of many parts and you also need to be ready to be patient. You’d have to check both interior and exterior parts, the engine, paintwork, lights, the infotainment system, and so on.

But what if you’re not familiar with the technical aspects of a car? In this case, you might want to bring someone who knows how to check a car. It could be a friend who is a car enthusiast or you may ask an expert auto mechanic to go with you. 

It’s not enough to look at a car and decide that it’s a good car because it looks good. Some cars may have a great exterior but their engines are a mess. It would be a really sound idea to have a specialist with you if you’re not sure how to tell if the car is in good condition.

And of course, be sure to take the vehicle for a test drive. This is how you’ll know if it’s comfortable to drive, if it makes strange noises, or if it’s difficult to control, and so on. If the car starts having problems after you bought it, you have certain rights that can get you your money back. Learn more about your consumer rights and what the Financial Ombudsman Service can do for you in case the condition of the car does not match the description. 


Buying a car is a big purchase. In fact, it’s among the biggest purchases you’ll ever make in your life, along with buying property. Try not to be in a hurry when it comes to deciding what car to buy. Take all the time you need so you can perform all inspections and checks to ensure you’re getting good value for your money. Happy car buying!😄🚘