How to Test A Used Car

If you’re buying a new car, it is important that you put it through its paces before you put up any money for it. Cars can look great, but you never really know if they are in full working order until you get behind the wheel.

Testing a car becomes even more important if you are buying a used car. Used cars will have some miles on them already, so if you are going to buy it, you want to know for certain the current owner isn’t getting rid of it because it is faulty.

To fully test a car, you need to take it for a test drive. But what should you be looking for when you first set eyes on a car?

Exterior and Interior

  • First impressions count for a lot when you see a new car; signs of damage, rusty patches, chips, scratches and any other general wear and tear will give you a good idea of the age of the car. Check all the panels fit smoothly; if they don’t, this may be a sign that the car has been in an accident.
  • Compare the wear and tear to the cars mileage to see if they add up. If the car looks like it’s been through the wars, but the mileage is low, there is a chance the mileage may have been tampered with. Excess wear on pedal rubbers, carpet and seats provide a good indication that if the car is older then it is being made out to be.
  • Check that all electrical systems are working properly; this includes lights inside and outside of the car, as well as windows (if automatic) and air conditioning (if fitted).
  • Check the wheels – including the spare wheel. Minimum legal tread depth is 1.6mm across the width of the tyre, so make sure you have a way to measure this. This can be done easily with a 20p coin; place the 20p into the main tread grooves, and if the outer band of the coin is obscured when it is inserted, then the tread is above the legal limit.
  • Always check the car’s Vehicle Registration Number (VIN); this can be found at the bottom of the windscreen, under the bonnet and beneath the carpet on the driver’s side.

Giving used cars a thorough examination is the best way to ensure you don’t get stung later by purchasing faulty vehicle.