Used Car Checklist - What to Look for When Buying

Sep 8, 2020

Used Car Checklist - What to Look for When Buying

Buying a used car isn’t like it used to be, with improved reliability, better manufacturing processes and methods of checking outstanding finance, MOT and service histories mean you can get a good idea of a car’s past more easily.

But don’t think buying a used car comes without risks, whether you’re getting it from an approved dealer or independent trader, you can use our used car checklist to help buy a car with confidence.

Always remember to buy a car with your head not your heart, it might look the part and be exactly what you want but you can’t overlook any doubts you may have for that reason.

Checklist for buying a used car

Take it for a test drive

You might be thinking this one seems pretty obvious, but there are people out there who will buy a car before even test driving it. This is where you will get a real feel for the car, as well as a chance to check the following:

● Are the warning lights operating as they should? Are any staying on after a few minutes of starting up.

● How is the brake system? Is it taking a long time to stop or can you hear screeching?

● Is the car pulling to one side?

● Is the handbrake working effectively?

● Any strange or unusual noises while driving?

If you feel uncomfortable about anything you have experienced from a test drive, question it!


Before taking the car out on a drive, look at the mileage and check that it is consistent with the age and appearance of the car. If the car has a digital display, it is easier to manipulate without leaving any clues. You can check this against MOT recorded mileage or service records, MOT history checks can be done online.


You need to ensure the seller has all necessary documents such as VC5 form, service history and MOT certificates, most of which can all be gathered online now.


The next thing to check is for any accidental damage. Look for any signs of inconsistent gaps between panels or mismatched colours that could be a sign of the car having gone under extensive repairs. Are there any inconsistencies with the paint across the car, has it maybe had a colour change?

Check the wheels, how the alloys/wheel trims look and if there are any signs of damage, do the tyres have the legal minimum of tread. What make are the tyres - are they cheap budget tyres and is the same brand used across all tyres.

Before you go…

Only some of the things we have mentioned above would stop you from buying a used car, it is important to be thorough and ensure you’re completely happy with everything before handing over any money or signing a deal.

If you have used our checklist and are happy with what you have seen, maybe you were even able to haggle some money off the asking price if you spotted something in our checklist that didn’t look right, you need to make sure the car is taxed, and find out when the tax is due to expire. As well as this, have an appropriate insurance policy in place before you set off on the road home. is the easiest way to gather quotes from local garages and mechanics in your area, saving you both time and money. Get your quote today!

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