Essential Used Car Buyer Checks

Buying a used car is very different to buying one fresh from the manufacturer. You need to know that what you are buying will last, and that’s not something that’s as easy to do as it is to say.

Here’s a few things you can do, both as a check when buying as well as once you’re the proud new owner. Taking care here will help ensure you get years of problem free motoring.

Oil levels

Oil is essential to ensure that cars function accurately.  A lack of oil will have an impact on the engine which ultimately could lead to failure.  Additionally, oil leaks could also lead to a range of incidents including the risk of fire on the surface where it has been deposited.  Ensuring that your car is taken to a garage to be checked and repaired if oil leaks are spotted is highly recommended.   

Here’s a great example of why oil leaks must not be ignored:

Many cars come with owner manuals which will give information regarding the specific oil type required by your vehicle.  If you do not have an owner manual, you could try looking for an online version or contacting a garage for advice.

Coolant levels

Just like oil, coolant levels support the functioning of the engine.  Checking coolant levels are within the recommended levels will maintain the performance of the car.  If coolant levels are lower than suggested, there is a risk of your engine overheating and therefore leading to your car breaking down.  The coolant reservoir in your car usually identifies the level required.  

Keep tyres inflated to avoid breaking down

Taking the time and making the effort to check various features of your car should help to avoid breakdowns.  Depending on the time of year, there are different challenges to need to deal with whilst driving.  This means that knowing that your car is safe to drive before setting off should ensure that you are feeling confident about driving.

Several recommendations are made by various websites, driving groups and breakdown response teams to encourage you to carry out a range of checks to avoid breakdowns where possible.  Some of the main checks referred to include checking oil, coolant and fuel levels, checking tyres and making steps to be prepared for the weather conditions that you may experience at a specific time of year.

Tyre pressure and tread levels

Checking that your tyres are inflated to the pressure level recommended for your car makes driving at various speeds safe.  You can check your tyre pressure at home using an air pump.  You may have a manual or an electric air pump which can identify your current pressure level as well as be used to increase or decrease the suggested pressure measurement. If you don’t have a means of doing this at home, many petrol stations have them on site which can be used for a small fee. Just Look for the air sign.  In addition to ensuring that your tyre pressure is reliable, checking the level of your tyre tread is also important.  The minimum tread level depth in the UK is 1.6mm.  Ensuring that you monitor the tread level on your car means you can identify when it would be ideal to replace your tyres to keep safe. As a side note, if your air pumps give inconsistent readings, that’s another sign you may need a new tyre, as they should always remain stable and inflated for short periods.

Preparing for weather conditions

The weather conditions associated with certain times of the year influence the risks linked to driving.  Being aware of the weather forecast prior to journeys can help you to feel more confident that you are prepared to maximise your own safety.  One of the key weather conditions that we know influences drivers is snow and ice.  Keeping items such as blankets, a battery powered torch, water to drink and food items in your car could be helpful if you ended up stuck.  It’s important however to avoid driving, when possible, if the weather conditions are likely to put you at risk.  You may also wish to explore the advice provided by the insurance company providing support for your car.

Other recommendations

There are many things that are suggested by car companies, breakdown services and insurance providers.  One key reference in addition to the suggestions already made is ensuring that you simply check that your car contains enough fuel to keep functioning.  There is broad advice, as recommended by dealerships, to get your car serviced annual to identify its strengths and weaknesses.  Additionally, MOTs are required from the point at which a vehicle becomes 3 years of age. In years gone by, it was unusual to buy a used car that was under three years of age, but today the used car forecourts are littered with vehicles that haven’t even seen one birthday!   Keeping on top of your car will mean that you are likely to maintain it well, ensuring your vehicles functioning is as great as possible.