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How To Guides - Unofficial Guide to the DVLA Used Car Buyers' Checklist

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Used Car Buyers' Checklist

Here are the top three standard checks to make for each area of a used car. They will help you identify any misuse or signs of neglect or accident damage. Print this out and take it with you when you insect potential used cars.

Interior

  • Do all the lights work?
  • Do all the controls, switches and displays work properly?
  • Are the carpets and seats all dry? If not, is there a leak?

Bodywork

  • Is the bodywork free from dents, scratches and rust?
  • Make sure you are not checking the car in the wet or the dark, as you are more likely to miss problems
  • Squat down and look along the sides of the car to help you spot mild dents
  • Pull back rubber seals around windows. Is the paintwork free from over-spray and suspect repair signs?
  • Look for signs of additional layers of paint, or ill-matching spray marks where an additional layer of paint has been added but the finish is not right. These are signs of an accident repair
  • Open the boot and bonnet. Is the metal work in good condition? Wherever there is exposed metal you need to look for ill-matching colours or buckling. These are signs of an accident

Engine

  • Is the exhaust smoke-free when the engine is warm? If not, there may be a problem
  • Is the coolant reservoir full of brightly coloured coolant? It should not be empty or brown. If not, are there any leaks that need further inspection?
  • Is there plenty of clean oil in the engine? If the oil in the engine smells burnt there may be a problem.

Test Drive

  • Does the car drive in a straight line when you loosen your grip on the wheel?
  • Is the steering accurate and free from play or judder?
  • Does the car pull away and brake easily without any noises or judder?

If you are unable tick one or more of the boxes, the car should be inspected by a professional. It is better to spend a few quid now and be sure then to send much more later on.