What to look out for when buying a used car

Understandably buying a used car can be stressful to many people. It is a big purchase so you want to make sure it is right. Here at The Affordable Car Prestige Car Supermarket, we have created a little purchasing guild to help you make a more informed decision. This is something we as a dealership abide by ensuring all our customers drive away satisfied

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  • Can the seller provide you a V5C registration document? If not, you wont be Abel to tax the car without it
  • Does the registration document have a watermark?
  • Are there any spelling mistakes on the registration document?
  • Does the VIN, engine number and colour match the V5 document?
  • Does the numberplate match the V5 document?
  • Has the VIN plate been tampered with at all? i.e. scratch market or faded digits
  • Does the vehicle have a current MOT? 


  • Does the appearance of the vehicle match the age and millage?
  • If the instrument cluster is manually operated with a gauge, does it looked to have been tampered with around the screw areas?
  • Check the recorded milage on the service records and other supplied documents so ensure consistency
  • Does the millage increase look like steady over the years? If there is a sudden slow down or increase, maybe worth questioning why?

Accident Damage

  • Does there look to be any inconstant panel gaps around the car or slightly different coloured paintwork? This could be signs of an extensive body repair job
  • Is the paint finish consistent across the full vehicle?
  • Can you see any traces of paint on black plastic areas such as window seals/ plastic mouldings
  • Has the car colour changed? Check under the carpets to find the original colour
  • Can you see any unusual looking weld marks under the boot or bonnet? 


  • Do all the tyres look in good condition? No rips, gashes or discoloration? Also to note, any tyre with 3mm of tread or less will need to be replaced
  • Does the spare wheel still look as though it can be used in an emergency? If the vehicle has a sealant kit, is it still in a serviceable condition?
  • Is the vehicle jack and tools still available in the vehicle?
  • Ensure all seat belts fasten correctly and are no tear marks on the fabric (pull all the way out to check)
  • Do all the lights, wipers and washers work correctly? 

Test Drive:

  • Do all the warning lights turn off when driven? They should if everything is fine, if they don’t, there is an issue relating to that warning sign.
  • Does the stopping power feel normal or does it take a lot of effort to stop? If so the brake pads could be worn out.
  • Is the braking even or does it pull to a side?
  • Can you hear any unusual noises when braking?
  • Does the handbrake hold the car firmly on a hill?
  • Does the steering pull to one side? And does it vibrate as you build up speed?
  • Does the ABS warning light turn off once you have started the vehicle? 


  • Are there any unusual noises when the vehicle is started from cold?
  • Do warning lights shut off soon as the vehicle is started?
  • Are there any signs of excessive exhaust emissions?
  • Does the clutch biting point feel a little high? This could be early signs of a replacement
  • Is there any sludge on the underside of the oil filler cap?
  • Does the oil level look correct? If its low, it could show the vehicle maintenance has been neglected but if its too high, it could mean its using more oil than normal (or it has been overfilled by accident)
  • Has the cam belt been replaced as per the service schedule? 

General Controls/ Windscreen and Locks:

  • Are all the locking wheel nuts on the car? And do you have the locking wheel nut key?
  • Are there any signs of forced entry in and around the lock areas?
  • Do all the windows open and close correctly? Are there any noises from the rubber seals around the windows?