What should I look for when buying a used car?

If you are looking to buy a used car, make sure you haven't overlooked the following checks. Read more. 

Buying a used or second-hand car can be a big undertaking, so it’s a good idea to know what it is you’re looking for, and what questions to ask to ensure you are getting a road worthy vehicle for a good price. By asking all the right questions, you will be able to make an informed decision before making a purchase.

Firstly, you will need to decide if you will purchase from a private vendor or a dealership. Both have their pros and cons so it’s worth considering both options.

Tips for buying a used car

Below are some tips and checks you should do before you buy and during your dealings with a private seller:

Compare prices

Before going to look at any cars, do your research. Think about the type of car that will suit your needs. Decide your budget and compare prices to see how you can get the best deal. Don’t focus on getting the cheapest deal as sometimes this can be a false economy and the cheaper car might end up costing you a lot more in the long run.

The logbook

When you go to see a car, the first thing you should ask is to see the logbook as this will prove the legitimacy of ownership.

Used car history

Check the car’s history through official records such as MotorcheckCartellMyVehicle, or Carhistorycheck. By putting the reg number of the car you’re thinking of buying into the report search bar on these websites, you can quickly determine the background of a vehicle registered in Ireland or the UK and identify any problems or red flags.

It’s also a good idea to check that if the seller originally bought the car through hire purchase or a personal contract plan. You need to be sure that all payments have been made so that the car belongs to the seller, and that they have the right to sell it.

View in person

Check the car, both inside and out, for any wear and tear. Ask the seller if the car has ever been in a crash and if this is the original paintwork. Do you feel the seller is being honest and truthful? Establishing this will help you make an informed decision on the condition of the car and the trustworthiness of the seller.

Why are they selling?

A good question to ask is why they are selling the car. There could be lots of legitimate reasons for them selling the car, but it’s always good to ask as you might get a sense that their reasons are because there is something wrong with the car.

Previous owners

Find out how many previous owners the car has had. The fewer the owners the more likely the car is in good condition. If the car has had a lot of owners, it’s more likely that all of them might not have taken good care of the car.

What’s the mileage?

According to myvehicle.ie, most car owners drive an average of 10,000 to 15,000 miles every year. If you’re buying a five-year-old car, you can expect millage of between 50,000 to 75,000. If the mileage reads 100,000 or more, then it’s done a lot of miles on the clock so might not be the best buy.

Service history

Ask if the car has been serviced regularly, and if it has, check if the service book has been filled in. If the car has been well cared for it’s a good sign that the seller looked after it and that it has been well maintained.

NCT (National Car Test)

Check to see if the NCT is up to date. If the car recently passed the NCT, that’s a good sign. If the NCT is due on the car, it could be a sign that the owner thinks it won’t pass and that is why they are selling it. The NCT shouldn’t be the only basis for your decision whether or not to buy the car, but it is a factor worth consideration.

Ask an expert

If you are serious about buying a particular car, get a mechanic or someone with good knowledge of car mechanics to inspect the car for you. This could be crucial in deciding if it’s a good buy or not.

Test drive

Take the car for a test drive to get a feel for how the car drives and handles the road. Get the most out of the test drive by doing as many of the normal things you would usually do when driving. Take it out on the motorway and smaller roads and see how it handles being in traffic.

Get everything in writing

If you are happy with the car and have decided to make the purchase, get everything in writing. Ask for two sets of keys for the car and a signed receipt for payment.

Get certified

Get all the necessary documents from the seller including the logbook, the NCT certificate and the VRT (Vehicle Registration Tax) certificate, if the car is imported. Ask for the car’s service book also. Apply for your new tax certificate and get the car booked in for an NCT if it’s not up to date.

Secure payment

It’s advisable to pay using a secure method of payment, such as a credit or debit card or PayPal. Do not send money via bank or wire transfer. If you pay securely, you may have some comeback if you are scammed, or something goes wrong.

Get insured

It’s illegal to drive in Ireland without car insurance so before you drive away in your new car, you must have insurance in place. Having your car insured with Zurich Insurance gives you peace of mind that should the worst happen such as a breakdown, you are protected. Get a Zurich car insurance quote here.

Enjoy your new ride

Now that all the hard work is done and the searching for a new car is over, all you have to do is enjoy your new car and safe driving.

About: How can we better discover our world?

No matter where you are travelling to in your car, your car and protecting those in it will be the most important element of the journey. Car insurance is a legal requirement in Ireland and having your car insured with Zurich Insurance gives you peace of mind that should the worst happen such as a breakdown, you are protected. Our car insurance also has many great benefits depending on the cover you choose.


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