Is it time for you trade in or upgrade your existing car? In many instances, it can make an awful lot of sense to buy a used car rather than a brand new one. The reason for this is that vehicles can depreciate so much in value, particularly in their first year – by half, in some cases,  so in terms of value for money and as a relatively significant investment, buying a used car is often the best thing to do.

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However, buying a used car can be a bit of a minefield, especially if you do not know a lot about cars. There are plenty of reputable dealerships around, such as Century Cars Ltd, where you can look at used vehicles and choose the best for you and your needs. There are also lots of individual private sellers who will be selling their cars, and they can be worth looking at, particularly if you have a tight budget. You do, however, need to know the right things to be asking and looking at when it comes to buying a car from a private seller. With all of that in mind, to make sure that you are getting the very best car for your money, here are some of the do’s and don’t when buying a used car from a private seller.

DO’s

Before you go and check the car out, have a fair and accurate price in your head. Ask the seller about the condition of the vehicle and the mileage before you even contemplate looking at it and the sort of price that they have in mind.

Make sure that you ask the owner for information and documents such as service records, receipts, details of any work that has been carried out and the MOT history. When buying from a dealership, this is usually made clear, but private sellers may be a little more shady about the history of the car.

If you know someone who understands cars – or even a friendly mechanic, ask them to go along with you and take a look at it. They may be able to spot any signs of wear or tear or whether it has been previously involved in an accident. Check underneath the car for any signs of leaks.

It is so important that you take the car for a test drive. Without driving it, many issues can be missed. Keep an eye out for problems with steering, the clutch, and gears. You also want to make sure there are no suspicious knocking or banging noises.  If there are issues, you could offer a lower price if you are happy to get those things fixed.

DONT’S

Do not rely solely on the description that the owner gives you, or their mechanic. Make sure you look at it in person before parting with your money, and if anything seems out of the ordinary, walk away.

Double check the mileage against MOT records, as they can be adjusted.

Do not meet at night – you may well miss things that can’t be seen without natural light. Always take a friend with you as well to keep you safe and give you an objective second opinion.