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Tips & Tricks for buying a used car like a pro – The complete guide 2024

used car

Buy a Used Car: Purchasing a second-hand car is not a cakewalk.

From fuel economy to model type, vehicle history to finances, a lot goes behind buying used cars. Even though it is a tedious process, many buyers prefer used cars as it saves a lot of money.

Nevertheless, we at Autoexpert have decided to make your dream car buying experience stay super-easy and memorable with our definitive guide on how to buy a used car like a pro.

This guide helps you in knowing those major pitfalls that one must watch out for before buying a used car. So read on:

What to look for when buying a used car?

Buying a used car is as valuable as buying a home. Without proper research, you may fall victim to bitter experiences that can also cost you a lot of money.

Used cars are purchased either through a dealer, a private party, online or auctions. Due to the advancement of technology, most buyers now prefer the online mode of car purchasing.

But it is highly recommended that buyers always purchase the used car by seeing it in the metal and after conducting a thorough vehicle inspection.

Where to buy a used car online?

Online shopping is never going out of vogue, be it something as huge as a car. Relaxed and convenient shopping is one of the major reasons for this shift in consumer mindset. Buyers can compare prices of similar cars easily, narrow their searches based on their requirements, and save a lot of time.

Above all, the buyers must understand their rights while buying a car online. As per the online consumer protection rules in the Consumer Contract Regulations (2013) there is a ‘cooling-off period of 14 days given to every online buyer. So the buyer has the full right to return the new or used car within the 14-day cooling-off period.

Now, if your quest is to find the best place to buy a used car online, then we suggest it has to be someplace where the buyer can receive accurate results that aids in better and quicker decision making.

Check here and search from over 254,476 used cars. Filter the car of your dreams based on your requirement, style and efficiency. You can also shortlist and inspect each car to know if that’s exactly your dream car or not.

TheAutoExperts Tip: Never initiate any payment without seeing or checking the used car.

Ask for the required documents

When it comes to buy a used car, there are three major documents that you must be concerned:

  • V5C logbook (registration certificate) 
  • MOT certificate
  • Receipt

Let’s get you more details about these vital documents below:

V5C registration certificate (logbook)

One of the most important documents that a buyer must check while buying a pre-owned car is a V5C registration certificate. This document is sometimes called the registration document or the logbook.

As a buyer, you must ensure that the information regarding the make and model of the car must match with the details given on the V5C. Check for the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) if it is the same as mentioned on the vehicle( under the windscreen).

Another responsibility of the buyer is to create a new V5 document in their own name. This can be easily done on the DVLA online service where buyers and sellers can update their details instantly.

You can also go to the DVLA’s free online vehicle information checker to ensure the details mentioned by the seller are legit or not. The registration number (on the number plate), MOT test number, mileage, make and model that the seller says must match with DVLA’s record.

MOT certificate

An MOT certificate is another important document that buyers must require from the seller. For all vehicles older than 3 years it is a must to take the MOT test that declares their roadworthiness.


Ask for the signed receipts which will help you know the ownership of the car along with the purchased data and amount. Other information that the receipt consists of are the engine size, registration, and chassis number.

Now that you know the required documents while buying used cars, there is something more that you must know before signing on the dotted lines and closing the deal. Go ahead with our next and most important tip while buying a used car.

Conduct car history checks before buying

No buyers want to own an unethical vehicle that has:

● Outstanding finance on it
● An written off insurance
● Been stolen or recorded in the PNC
● Any mileage discrepancies or clocked
● Been scrapped and destroyed by an ATF

Hence, it is important to know the untold history behind the car that probably the seller may never reveal.

A car history check will disclose some of the valuable information such as the value of the vehicle, written status and category of the vehicle, stolen data, financial status of the vehicle and much more.

You can easily check car history online using numerous available tools now such as Car Analytics. It helps you shortlist your next car by checking all those important verticals at an affordable cost.

A full car history report must involve the following:

● A count on the number of previous users
● Outstanding Finance Check
● Written-Off status check
● Police Stolen Check
● Number Plate Change History
● Certificate of Destruction
● High-risk check
● Mileage anomaly
● Colour Change
● Scrapped
● Previous Northern Ireland
● VIC Inspected
● VIN or Chassis
● Engine Number
● Car Valuation

Vehicle inspection

Before buying a used car it is mandatory to conduct a full vehicle inspection in order to rule out any hidden or underlying issues. For a thorough used car inspection you must do the following:

  • Take a test drive

Buyers must mandatorily take a test drive which must be done within the seller’s premises or at their home. Also, it must be noted that insurance is a must for a test drive.

Things to note while taking a test drive are:

  • Never go for a shorter ride that is less than 15 minutes. If possible, ride on different types of roads for an hour to get the feel of the drive.
  • Is the engine struggling to start?
  • Motor the temperature gauge when you start the car
  • Does the engine overheat?
  • Check the brake. Does it vibrate or makes any squealing sounds?
  • Check the clutch functions
  • Check for lightness in the steering
  • Any fluid leaks? Or Burning smells?
  • Check the gear transmission
  • How’s the suspension over bumpy roads?
  • How did you like the overall driving experience?
  • Conduct a pre-purchase car inspection by a qualified mechanic

In a pre-purchase car inspection, every part of the vehicle is analysed by qualified mechanics. the below-given parameters of the car must be checked mandatorily:

  • The state of the tyres
  • Examine any misaligned panels
  • Check if the paint go with the panels
  • Look for scratches and dents
  • Inspect the oil level
  • Check the oil colour which should be golden yellow
  • Monitor the colour of the emission. Thick, black or blue smoke could be a sign for concern.
  • Check the air conditioning
  • Monitor the electric windows. Look for cracks on windows
  • Inspect the car seat
  • Scan for damp smell inside the car

Used car warranty

When purchasing a used car, warranty can be of solace. You can stay rest assured as your car will be thoroughly inspected and duly covered by a warranty. Nevertheless, buying an extended warranty isn’t always recommended if your car is reliable or still has a manufacturer warranty.

Why are used cars cheaper to insure?

Yes. The insurance cost of used cars is comparatively lower than new cars. To stay on more benefit, you can do these as given below to reduce car insurance amount even further.

  • Have a black box fitted
  • Drive only a few miles per year
  • Take note of your parking areas. Parking in the private driveways and garage will offer you more discounts.
  • Lower the insurance group

So if you are looking for cheap car insurance, then buying a pre-owned car would be the best idea to go forth.

Used car maintenance

Be it a new or used car, regular and preventive maintenance are critical. You can either create your own proper car maintenance checklist or hire mechanics online who would come at your doorstep for an effortless servicing.

Buying a used car checklist:

  1. The process of buying a used car does not have to be daunting process.
  2. With some preparation and care, you can buy a used vehicle that fulfils your needs and provides dependable transportation at an affordable price! Fits your budget.
  3. It’s essential to create an exhaustive checklist as it will help ensure you buy the best vehicle possible.
  4. Start by researching the type of car you want and add any desired features or amenities to the list.
  5. Inspecting for signs of wear and tear is vital, as well as taking test drives.

Finally, a vehicle history report should be purchased to uncover any hidden damage or negligence from the previous owner.

With this checklist, buying a used car is sure to be just what you need – reliable transportation at an affordable price!

What to check when buying a used car UK?

When buying a used car in the UK, it is important to ensure you get value for money.

There are several considerations to consider before signing on the dotted line- first of all, check the vehicle’s odometer readings and paperwork like tax and MOT certificates, so you know exactly what you’re buying.

Perform a full inspection of the car’s exterior and interior, looking in particular for any signs of rust or corrosion.

Ensure all the features and components, such as lights, brakes and seatbelts, are working properly and that there is no noticeable damage or wear to be aware of.

Finally, buy a car with an established service history where possible to ensure that regular maintenance has been done on the car – it will pay off in terms of its long-term performance and reliability.

Answering your questions

Is buying a used car always better?

New cars are expensive. If you’re using an auto loan to finance your purchase, then you’ll probably have to borrow more than if you were buying a used car, and you’ll pay higher interest rates. It depreciates rapidly. A new car depreciates faster than a used one.

The three disadvantages of buying a used car instead of a new one?

Buying a used car has its drawbacks

• There might be a trade-off between color, features, and options.
• A used car is usually sold as-is with little protection and no warranty coverage.
• Financing will probably be more expensive.

Is the price of a used car dropping?

In a recent Auto blog article, the average price of a used car increased by about 17 percent over the past year. The used car price dropped about 24 percent in May 2022 compared to April 2022.

When is the best time to buy a used car?

In what month should you buy a used car? In addition to certain weeks or holidays, certain months are better for buying or leasing new vehicles or buying used ones than other months. In general, May, October, November, and December are the best months to visit the car dealership.