Back to Posts

Picking The Right Used Car in the UK - Our Top 10 Tips

  • Picking The Right Used Car in the UK - Our Top 10 Tips

With some research and patience, you can find a quality used car that fits your needs and budget. Here are our top 10 tips for picking the right used car in the UK

Buying a used car in the UK can be daunting, but it can also help you get more value for your money if done properly. Here are our top 10 tips for picking the right used car in the UK:

1. Set Your Budget and Stick To It

First things first - decide how much you are willing to spend on a used car. Make sure to factor in not just the purchase price, but also ongoing costs like fuel, insurance, road tax, and maintenance. Setting a firm budget will help narrow your search and avoid overspending. 

2. Check Reliability Ratings 

Once you've set your budget, check reliability ratings on makes and models that fall within it. Sites like Rapid Car Check allow you to compare average repair costs and frequency across thousands of UK cars. Opt for well-rated, reliable models that suit your needs.

3. Research Common Issues

In addition to reliability ratings, spend time researching any common mechanical, electrical, or other issues reported on the makes and models you are considering. Forewarned is forearmed - this will help avoid buying a used lemon.

4. View Service History

Ask to see full service records before buying any used car. A complete history with regular servicing is a good sign that the car has been properly maintained. Gaps in service records should raise red flags about potential neglect or hidden issues.  

5. Get an Inspection

Before finalising any used car purchase, get an independent inspection by a mechanic you trust. An experienced mechanic can spot problems or flaws you might miss on your own. This upfront investment could save thousands in unforeseen repair costs down the road.

6. Take a Lengthy Test Drive

Don't just take a car around the block - take it on at least a 20-30 minute mixed-conditions drive. Test acceleration, braking, steering, visibility, and all car systems like heating, AC and electronics. This will reveal any handling quirks or faulty components before you buy. 

7. Check Safety Features 

Ensure any car you are considering has essential modern safety features like anti-lock brakes, stability/traction control, air bags, and at least a 4-star Euro NCAP rating. Compromising on safety can prove extremely costly.

8. Review Title, Mileage and Ownership

Check that the V5C vehicle registration document matches the seller's details to ensure they legally own the car. Verify mileage claims against MOT and service history, and beware of extremely high or very low mileage readings. Multiple previous owners could indicate past problems.

9. Compare Insurance Costs

Before final purchase, get quotes from multiple insurers on the specific used car model you intend to buy. Higher premiums can add significantly to the overall costs of ownership, so factor this into any budget.

10. Ask About Outstanding Finance

Used cars could potentially still have outstanding finance secured against them. The car legally belongs to the finance company until the loan is fully repaid. Use online tools like HPI Check to verify there is no outstanding finance, or request proof from the seller.

Following these key tips will help guide you to finding the most suitable, mechanically-sound used car while avoiding expensive pitfalls. Take time to research options thoroughly, get professional inspections, review key documentation, and fully test-drive shortlisted cars. A bit of diligence goes a long way to picking the right used car!