How to buy a used car without getting tricked into choosing a dud?

In times of financial pressure, people inevitably become much cannier when considering larger purchases. As a result, private sellers and car supermarkets have sprung up all over the country, selling good quality,

second hand vehicles at affordable prices. So, how do you choose the right car without being – pardon the pun – taken for a ride?

Watch out for unscrupulous dodges

Clocking is the illegal practice of winding the odometer of a high-mileage car back to appear as if it has done fewer miles, making the vehicle seem more appealing.

Cloning is switching the number plate of a used car with another of the same make and model. This can hide a number of problems, not least with regards to stolen vehicles.

Thirdly, ‘cut and shut’ cars are two vehicles, probably written off by insurers, welded together and sold as one. This might seem easy to spot, but cut and shut jobs are often very skilfully done. Look closely.

Keep to your budget

Make sure you can afford ongoing costs such as maintenance, insurance, taxes and petrol. Get multiple insurance quotes and factor in any repair work the car might need straight away.

Check price guides too, and do some online research to make sure you are getting the car for the right price. Don’t get taken in by fancy sales patter.

View the car in the best possible light

Never go to see a car in the rain, in poor light or at night. You won’t be able to check its condition properly. Inspect it from all angles and don’t be afraid to open the boot, try out the sunroof and satisfy yourself that the switches, lights, levers and alarms are working correctly. Ask to see a full service history.

Hit the road

A test drive will allow you to assess the car’s performance, as well as whether you feel comfortable driving and whether there is enough room for your needs. Check under the bonnet after the drive to check for tell-tale liquid leaks.

Finally… don’t be pressured into buying a car. Even second hand vehicles represent a sizeable chunk of money. However, if you do decide to go ahead, make sure you confirm any work the seller has agreed to do beforehand, as well as collection or delivery arrangements. Do not leave without a receipt stating the vehicle details, price, terms of sale and the seller’s details.