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Whether you have just passed your driving test, or you can’t afford/don’t want a new car first time out, a previously owned vehicle is the logical choice. This article is a guide for choosing a used car, either from notice boards, local papers, or guaranteed from a professional car dealer.
Many new, and/or younger drivers choose a used car as their first vehicle. New drivers, and particularly new, younger drivers, have a higher incidence of road traffic accidents than those who’ve been driving for some years. That is not to say that new and younger drivers are necessarily at fault, but road safety is something to be super aware of when you take out your vehicle for the first few times. With motor insurance costs at an unprecedented high for new drivers, a used car might be the best first choice.
If you don’t have much money to spend, local papers are often a good source of used vehicles offered for sale. Trade papers are also a good place to look, but vehicles from those tend to be in a higher price bracket than individual sales. There are a number of things that you should look for when purchasing a used vehicle, whether you buy it direct from another individual, from a trade paper, or from a car auction.
The vehicle should have a current and valid MOT certificate. Don’t purchase a vehicle without a current certificate; it could have hidden faults that are not immediately apparent. If this is your first vehicle then take a seasoned driver with you when you go to look at the car. Look around the vehicle, outside and in, as well as underneath if possible. Check the tyres; if the tread is worn and they need replacing, this could be expensive. Look carefully for any evident signs of significant rust; a little may not be a problem, but if it’s significant, you could be faced with some heavy additional costs. Ask about the fuel consumption. Check the mileage as well as the mirrors and doors. On some older cars, the doors tend to stick, making them hard to open, and more importantly, the mirrors may not adjust to the correct angle.
Whether you are purchasing from an individual advertising in a local paper, or someone in a trade paper, all these checks apply. Always ask for the vehicle’s logbook and a test drive; if the answer is no to either of these, even with the current owner accompanying you on the test drive, then walk away.
Purchasing a used vehicle from a recognised dealer is generally more expensive, but will often come with some kind of short-term guarantee. Guarantees may include parts and some kind of service plan, so it’s worth checking out. Again, take a more experienced driver with you, ask to see the log book and MOT certificate, take note of any recurring problems and how many miles there are on the clock. Use the same kinds of assessment as you would when purchasing the vehicle from an individual – and good luck in finding the right car for you!