How to check and test drive a used car

Inspecting and test-driving a used car means you’ve found a model you’re interested in buying – which is great.

But it’s crucial you take your time and do it properly.  Don’t be distracted by chatting to the dealer or private seller, but do ask them plenty of questions about the car’s history, and how well it’s been looked after.

Top tip: You may want to take some plastic gloves with you to prevent your hands getting dirty – you can get these for free at many garage forecourts. And avoid checking a car in the rain or at night (unless it’s very well lit), as both scenarios make it harder to spot problems.

1. Inspect the bodywork and chassis Check the physical condition of the car carefully.

Crouch down and look along the sides for dents and scratches hidden by reflections – they can be surprisingly expensive to put right if you’re bothered by them.

Uneven gaps between the body panels can indicate poorly-repaired crash damage.

Lift the bonnet and check the metalwork inside for signs of an impact or botched repair, such as folds in the metal, cracked plastic, or fresh or mismatched paint.

Also look underneath the car – it will probably be dirty, but again look for signs of damage.

Check the jacking points to see whether it looks as though the car has been jacked up recently or frequently, which may indicate it’s had some problems.

2. Check the oil level Feel the engine – it may have been pre-warmed to disguise a starting problem.

If cold, lift out the oil dipstick to see if the level is correct. The oil should ideally be a light, yellowy-brown – dark, dirty oil is a sign of poor maintenance in a petrol car, although diesel-engine oil will be slightly darker in colour.

It’s also worth checking the underside of the oil filler cap – white deposits are a potential indication of serious engine problems.

3. Look for leaks Inspect the engine and surrounding parts for evidence of oil or water leaks. Oil will leave brown stains, while water leaves a white, chalky residue.

Don’t forget to look at the ground underneath where the car has been parked, too.

4. Test all the electrics Non-engine electrics are now the biggest cause of faults on used cars, so test all the gadgets and switches to make sure everything works as it should.

Items that are easy to forget to check include the interior and exterior lights (especially if it’s a sunny day), air conditioning (in winter), the heated rear window, electric seats and sun roof.

5. Is the mileage genuine? ‘Clocking’ is still a problem even on modern cars, so see if the condition of the interior tallies with the mileage displayed on the odometer.

Worn pedal rubbers, sagging seats and a shiny steering wheel rim could indicate that the car has covered more miles than its owner claims.

6. V5C registration document Never buy a car without a V5C registration document (logbook).

Call the DVLA (0870 240 0010) or check its online vehicle enquiry service to confirm that the car’s colour, engine size and date of registration match the V5C.

Check the seller’s address matches the car’s logbook – ask to see proof of ID.

Make sure the person selling the car is actually the owner, and that they live at the address printed on the document – ask them to show some proof of ID, such as a driver’s licence or utility bill.

7. Check servicing records Ideally, a used car should come with a full service history (ie. garage stamps in a maintenance record) and a folder of receipts for all servicing or repair work, plus (if it’s older than three years old) old MOT certificates and report sheets.

Look at the servicing bills, checking that the odometer’s mileage tallies with the record and that servicing has been carried out at the appropriate times.

The MOTs should also show the mileage, so check that they seem to tally.

8. Does the car have a valid MOT? Ensure that the MOT certificate is valid and see if there were any ‘advisories’ that may need attention soon, such as worn tyres, fluid leaks or emerging rust on crucial components.

Beware of used cars that are sold with a short MOT or none at all – the owner may know something you don’t, and if it doesn’t have an MOT, it’s not road-legal.

9. How does it feel to drive? Before you take a test drive, you must be insured. If you have comprehensive insurance, you may have third-party cover to drive another car if the owner allows it.

Check that you can get comfortable in the car and operate all the controls easily.

Try to test the car on a variety of roads.

Check that the gearbox, brakes and clutch function smoothly and effectively, and do a three-point turn to check for play in the steering.

Listen for rattles or odd noises that could indicate mechanical problems.  If it’s safe to do so, hold your hands only very lightly on the steering wheel briefly and see if the car tries to pull to one side, at a steady speed or under braking.

If it does, it could highlight one of a number of problems, including oddly worn brakes, unbalanced wheels, wheel bearing issues or simply an under-inflated tyre.

10. Remember it’s one of thousands Used cars are plentiful, so don’t buy one you have any doubts about, or feel pressured into buying by the seller.

Unless you’re after a rare model, there will always be an alternative example for sale not too far from you – and if you’ve seen several, which we’d recommend doing, you may be able to use this knowledge to haggle down the price.

Read more: – Which?

Top 5 Ways to Maintain Your Car

Just as humans take care of themselves, stay in shape, and maintain a healthy diet, the same ideas can apply to keeping your vehicle in tip-top condition. When you have to dig into your bank account for expensive car repairs, it can be painful. However, if you properly maintain your car, you may not have to dig deep into that bank account as much.

Here are the top 5 ways to maintain your car …

1. Check the Oil

The oil in your vehicle is very important – it’s the blood of your car. Without oil, your car isn’t going to get very far and you will end up sitting on the side of the road. If you’re not family with checking your oil properly, have your mechanic explain it to you. As a general rule of the thumb, you need to have your oil changed every 3,000 to 3,500 miles.

2. Pay Attention to Those Warning Signs

If the “check engine” light on your car’s dashboard is on, then you need to take your vehicle to a trusted mechanic and have it looked at. If you ignore this warning sign, it’s not just going to go away. Instead, it could cause even more damage to your vehicle, which will cost you even more money. Also, make sure you know a fair price to pay for the maintenance and repairs being done to your car – you can check the prices online.

3. Use the Right Type of Tyres with the Right Inflate

Maintaining your car tyres will help keep your car in shape. Make sure you inflate them according to the specified pressure. You can purchase a tyre gauge at most department stores so that you can keep track of the tyre pressure. When you start to see the tread wear indicators showing, then it is time for you to get a new set of tyres. At least once a month, you need to check the pressure of your tyres.

4. Emission Control Systems

There are some areas that require you to get your vehicles emission control system checked periodically. However, even if this is something that is not required in your city, it’s something that you should do. If you do not pass the test, then the two common culprits would be the EGR valves and Oxygen sensors.

5. Keep All of Those Fluids Topped Up

While oil is super important, it isn’t the only fluids in your vehicle – you also have fluids that the drive train requires. Make sure you keep check of your transmission fluid, coolant, power steering fluid, brake fluid, windshield washer fluid and all of those other fluids – we recommend checking them at least once a week. Again, if you’re not sure how to check the fluids in your vehicle, have a mechanic explain it to you.

Follow the top 5 ways to maintain your car, and as we said in the beginning, it will decrease your chances of having to dig into your bank account in order to fix your vehicle.

For MOT Wakefield, check out Express Tyre & Auto Centre.

Getting Peace of Mind With Express Auto Centre

There’s a lot of different things that could occur with your vehicle. Many people do not really think about that.

No one wants to think about the downsides of car ownership, and maintenance that goes into it.

For those that don’t ever think about it, there are going to be points of stress that need to be considered.

These stress points can occur at any time, including the moments when you need your auto most.

For instance, you could be driving to work tomorrow, and your car could stall, and then stop outright.

What do you do?

You may want to panic, you may not know who to call, and that’s a tough thing to deal with.

It’s for reason why you may want to look into MOT Wakefield, and make sure that you have the number to get a helping hand.

Cars Break Down

Even if you were to keep your car in pristine shape, if you were to follow the maintenance routine that your car’s manufacturer has, you’ll still need a helping hand overall.

Cars break down, and that’s a fact of life. Sometimes, you will see a slight warning that something may be off, but most often than not, you are not going to get a warning.

Your car will break down, and when it does, you will need help.

It’s for that reason why you should look into getting professional help for your vehicle, before it breaks apart on you.

If you get routine checks, tests, and more, you could avoid having to be stuck on the side of the road, down the line.

Upgrade With Proper Help

Perhaps the best thing to do is not so much to just have the contact information for MOT Wakefield, but rather, you should get proper upgrades to your vehicle at the appropriate times.

For instance, you may need new tyres.

You may need to repair wear and tear on a clutch, and these things don’t occur overnight.

They go through time, and for that reason, you will need to get a helping hand over time.

With minor maintenance, with focused energy on your car through the years, you could rest assured that you will not have to deal with a serious break down, any time soon.

Some simple upgrades, like new tyres, a clutch fix, shocks, brakes, and other minor changes could give you thousands of more miles per vehicle today.

Know Who To Call

The best thing to do about vehicles today is to make sure that you know who to call, and when.

When you need an opinion about your car, make certain that you focus on getting help from the professionals.

Express Auto Centre can help you out with your MOT in Wakefield, is one way to ensure that you’ll get the upper hand with your vehicle, that’s for certain.

It’s simply one of the best things that you can do overall. Keep updated with your vehicle’s minor issues, upgrade when you can, and when there’s something that goes wrong, make sure you call a pro, don’t go DIY on this option.