7 questions to ask before buying a used car

Lesson Type
Last updated: 2 Jun 2020

Buying a car is very exciting. Not only will you be able to drive yourself around, but there’ll be no more buses, no more mum’s Micra and no more being the annoying mate who always needs a lift. Having said that, you shouldn’t just go out and hand over cash to the first person you find with a hand written ‘for sale’ note.

Whether you’re buying your car from a dealer or from some bloke who says he’s going to offer you a ‘good deal’, here’s 7 questions you should ask before sealing the deal.

1. Is it in good condition?

It might seem like an obvious question, but it’s a good one to start with. They’re probably not going to say ‘well the doors won’t open and the handbrake doesn’t really work’ so whatever they tell you, make sure you give the car a once over yourself or from a mechanic if you're worried. We suggest making sure you know what to expect from getting your car serviced so you can keep an eye out for any red flags.

buying used car good condition

2. How many owners?

A new car is like a new boyfriend: you want to know where it’s been before you take it home. Ask the seller how many people have owned the car, but don’t just take their word for it. The seller should be able to show you the V5C logbook which tells you if they’re telling the truth about the ‘one careful lady owner’.

3. Has it ever been in an accident?

Buying a used car is riskier than buying a brand new one off the forecourt, but not everyone has the budget for that. The seller should tell you the truth if you ask this question directly, but you should always check by doing a HPI check online for a couple of quid.

buying used car accident

4. Can I take it for a test drive?

You should never buy a car without taking it for a test drive first. If you ask to take it for a spin and they say no, walk away now with your bank balance still looking healthy. It'll probably feel different to the car you've been using in your lessons, so think about whether you'll be able to get used to it. Remember, if you do take a car for a test drive, you need to make sure your car insurance covers you to drive it.

5. What’s that funny noise?

Following your test drive, you should take the opportunity to ask questions about any funny noises or how ‘it pulls to the left a bit’. If you’re not convinced by their explanation, get someone who knows their way around an engine to take a look.

6. How much money do you want?

Once you’ve got through all of those stages, it’s time to talk money. First things first, you need to ask how much they want for the car.

buying a used car how much money do you want

7. And how much do you really want?

Don’t accept the first price they give you, because they will expect you to haggle. You might not be the best when it comes to Moroccan style market haggling, but it’s time to get your best sheepskin coat on and work that price down.