Buying a Used Car: The Pre-Purchase Check

Buying A Used Car: The Pre-Purchase Check

After you have decided on which type of used car you want to buy, it’s important to check the car thoroughly. The best practice is to find a couple of cars of the same model for sale and arrange to view all of them. That way you can compare the condition of each of the cars and get a feel on whether they are worth the money. Just remember, it’s bad practice to go for the first car you see, without having seen any other car.

Checking A Used Car Before Buying

Once you have made some appointments to view the cars it’s time to prepare yourself to view the car. Checking a car and identifying any faults can be a bit daunting if you’re not quite sure what you should look out for. There’s a number of areas on the car to pay special attention to:

Checking the exterior of a car

The easiest check to do is to see if the exterior of the car, look out for any scratches or dents. Also, make sure to look out for any slight differences in terms of the paint colour. It may just be that panels have been replaced and resprayed to cover up any accidents. Also, check for any moisture underneath the car, it may just be that oil or coolant is leaking out of the car. Below are 5 recommendations for what to look out for:

  • Scratches and dents
  • Difference in paint colour
  • Scratches and cracks in the windscreen, windows, and mirrors
  • Signs of corrosion, e.g. on wheels
  • Condition of the wheels and tyres

Another good thing to check is if all lights like the headlamp, braking lights, indicators, etc are in working condition.

Checking the interior

Moving on to the car’s interior, you should pay attention to the condition of the seats and panels. While most of it is easily visible, it still makes sense to have a closer look at:

  • Seat upholstery and carpets (lift the carpet too)
  • Controls and instruments
  • Rearview mirror
  • Door locking
  • Interior lights and lights on the dash panel

Checking the engine bay

Once you have checked the interior and exterior it’s worth opening the bonnet to check the engine bay. Check if there are any signs of oil debris in and around the engine, and check for any fluid leaks. Signs of moisture or oil around the engine can mean that the engine is leaking somewhere.
Even if you are not a mechanic, these are things you can check yourself:

  • General condition and cleanliness of the engine bay
  • Signs of corrosion
  • Fluid levels, e.g. oil
  • The general condition of hoses and pipes
  • Signs of fluid leaks

The test drive

One important pre-purchase check to tick off the list as well as to test drive the car. Driving the car can show up many problems that you would simply just not notice when the car is stationary. Rattles and knocking noises can all indicate major problems.

  • Footbrake and handbrake
  • Noise level of the engine while driving as well as during idling
  • Operating the clutch and shifting into gears
  • General steering, the effort you need to put into steering, general handling the car and road stability
  • Engine efficiency, e.g. while accelerating and operation of the accelerator pedal in general

Check our guide on test driving a car for more tips on how to make the most of a test drive.

A Second Opinion

Once you have checked all the cars you selected it’s time to consider which one was the best. Consider the condition of the car and also take into account any differences in terms of recent repairs done, differences in terms of the trim levels and of course the price. On the basis of all those points, select your favourite car and decide if you really want to get it.

At this point, it’s worth checking the chosen car once more to see if there’s anything you failed to notice. Often it’s worth getting a pre-purchase inspection with a professional mechanic at this point. The mechanic would be able to check over the car in more detail and use expertise built up over many years. A mechanic can identify any underlying problems that may not be immediately obvious. That way you can pre-empt any nightmares later on. You wouldn’t want to buy a car that seems great of course but later turns out to have major problems.

Book a pre-purchase check

Buying A Used Car: When To Buy?

Buying A Used Car: When To Buy?

If you have decided on the used car you want to buy, it’s time to take it one step further and negotiate with the seller. This is the moment to check if there are any deals available. Make sure to use any problems found on the car during your test drive to your advantage to haggle with the seller. You could, for example, suggest that the seller should fix any problems, or give a discount on the asking price.

The Right Time To Buy A Used Car

If you’re looking at a car with a private seller rather than with a dealer there will always be less scope for a good deal. A private seller, after all, is only looking to sell his car and not to meet sales targets as dealers do. With a dealer, it may be easier to drive a hard bargain, especially in some particular parts of the year.

Car dealers have sales targets to meet, usually, these targets are based on a quarterly time frame. Dealers will often make an extra push for sales at the end of each quarter to hit the target or even break it. That means you can normally get the best deals towards the end of each quarter in March, June, September, and December. Make sure not to leave it too late, though, as dealers may have already hit their targets by then and will be less inclined to do a deal.

Also, use to your advantage times that are traditionally slow in terms of sales. Generally, dealers are more inclined to negotiate during summer holidays or around Christmas. During those times there will be less potential buyers around.

Also, bear in mind that there is an ideal time to buy certain cars. Whilst it is an appealing idea to jump on the bandwagon common knowledge is that autumn or winter is normally the time to get the best deal on a convertible. At this time sellers will find it much hard to sell these cars than in summer.

Discussing Other Benefits

If you’re buying from a dealer it’s worth pushing the salesman a bit further than the deals offered. For example, ask for any warranty and financing options available. It may just be that you could walk away with a much better deal than you thought! Just remember, dealers have sales targets to meet, and options will be available to them to help them sell more cars.

Walking Away

If you’re not happy with the deal offered, it might be good to retreat and simply walk away. If the deal just isn’t right it’s worth just to leave it and look for another car. Just remember, if you can’t find another car you like, you can always return to the initial car. A seller may have changed their mind by then.

Of course, if the seller just fails to address any concerns raised about the condition of the car then chances are the seller wants to hide something on his car. In those cases, it’s good to just walk away, keep in mind that there are always other cars around.

To help drivers understand the condition of the used car they want to buy and to help them make the purchase decision with confidence, we created pre-purchase inspection services. They are concluded prior to the purchase and the customers will receive a report and consultation with the mechanic afterward.

Book your inspection here

How To Test Drive A Used Car?

How to test drive a car

Figuring out how to test drive a used car can be daunting, especially if you’re looking to buy a second-hand car. You will quickly have to adapt to how the car handles. On top of that you will also have to watch out for any signs indicating a problem with the car. That said, there is a couple of easy steps to take that can help pin-point potential issues on the used car you’re looking to buy.

1. Check over the car before setting off

Once having checked over the car that you’re looking to buy inside and out it’s time to test drive the car. Once you take place in the driver seat familiarise yourself with the car. Start the car and check the instrument panel and all the switches to test if everything works. Make a note of any warning lights that show up. Also check for excessive smoke or noise coming from the bonnet.

Turn on the lights and check if they all work. Often it’s also worth pumping the brake pedal to check if it holds its pressure well. A ‘sinking pedal’ could indicate that there is a hydraulic issue (see our advice on brake problems). A final step to take before setting off is too turn the steering wheel left and right. Listen for any squeaks or clunks and make sure if everything is smooth.

2. Setting off on the test drive

Often sellers will insist on driving along when you’re on the test drive. This can be distracting of course. It’s worth to take someone else with you to keep the seller busy. That way can you can concentrate on finding faults on the car.

When driving the car, speed up slowly and listen to any strange noises like squeaks or clunks. Any noise can mean that there is something wrong with the suspension. Once you’re up to speed take note of how the car handles and whether it’s smooth. Especially when going through corners. If the car pulls to one side or doesn’t go over bumps smoothly can be signs that something isn’t quite right. Same goes if the car shakes or becomes unstable when braking.

When taking a car on a test drive always make sure to test it on a variety of roads. Try and seek out roads with good and bad road surfaces. Drive the car on the motorway and try to find roads with lots of start-stop traffic. That way you can build a better picture on how the car performs under different circumstances.

4. After the test drive

Once you have driven the car it’s important to check the car over again and check for any smoke, leaks or strange smells. It can be that some issues on the car were just not visible before you set off. If there is a burning smell it may be that there is an oil leak somewhere. If there is any smoke it may be that the engine has overheated.

3. Insurance

One very important thing not to forget when taking a used car on a test drive is to ensure that the car is insured. Remember, if the owner of the car is a private seller it’s likely that you will have to arrange insurance to drive it yourself. If you’re looking to buy from the motor trade then it’s likely insurance has already been arranged.

Often car dealerships can cover you on their insurance for the duration of the test drive. It is of course important to discuss the terms with the dealership or the private seller before the test drive.

5. Top tip

Once you have test driven the car make a note of any faults found. If you do decide to buy the car despite these issues, then use them to bargain. Make the seller aware of the problems you found when negotiating to buy the car. That way you may be able to bring the price down or get the seller to repair these issues.

That said, it might be that you do not have the confidence to test drive a used car. In that case it’s worth getting a pre-purchase inspection with a professional mechanic. Mechanics will be able to check over the car in detail. Using the expertise they have built up over many years to give an accurate appraisal of what is wrong with the vehicle.

What Used Car Should You Buy If You Love Camping?

What Used Car Should You Buy I You Love Camping?

Summertime is here (sort of), it’s time to finally sort out that summer holiday you’ve been putting off. Let’s face it, it may be a bit last minute now to book that summer holiday on the other side of the globe. You will need to stay a bit closer to home, why not take a camping holiday by car? It’s cheaper, and you can actually explore the area by car.

Perhaps, though, you don’t have quite the right car for the job, or perhaps no car at all. So, what used car should you buy if you love camping? There’s a couple of used cars we rate highly for camping, here’s our top picks:

Volvo 850 Estate

The Volvo 850 Estate is probably the perfect choice if you need lots of space and reliability. Moreover they will be cheap, with the most basic models available from around £400.

The 850 Estate would provide enough space for lots of camping equipment with a sizeable boot (some might say you wouldn’t even need a text with this one). You could always put a mattress in the back and just sleep in the car, as shown by James May of Top Gear here.

Choose the high performance T5-R or R version if you would like to arrive at your destination in no time. If you must, you could even hook up a caravan and stay dry during your holiday.

Renault Avantime

Here’s the oddball camping car of choice. It was a sales disaster when new as it just didn’t appeal enough. If you want something a bit different and need lots of space then the Avantime is the car to go for. It is a strange combination between a Coupe and an MPV, and looks stylish in a way that only French cars do.

For holidaying it is perfect. There’s an enormous boot for lots of luggage, and a tent should fit without problems. The party piece is the ‘grand air’ mode, which opens all the windows and the sunroof in one go. Bearing in mind that the Avantime has no pillars between the side windows it is perfect for drives through the countryside. It will let in a nice summer breeze all round.


The MG F is our camping sports car of choice. It won’t really work for families. But if you like to go camping on your own or if with your partner this could be the car to go for. Whilst luggage space is limited, adding a luggage rack on the back of the car is easy. It would give you some space to actually take a tent with you, and an extra pair of socks.

Of course there’s faster and better sports cars, but the MG F does tick a lot of boxes. It’s nimble, it’s a convertible and has a well-proven mid-mounted engine.

Peugeot Boxer Motorhome

The last option is not a car, but rather a van converted into mobile home. If you prefer not lugging a caravan behind your car, a motorhome like this is the perfect choice. With the cheapest models starting at around £10,000, it’s not a cheap way into camping. But looking at is an investment for the long run it could make sense.

Remember, it will reduce your mobility a bit when camping. Let’s face it, it’s unlikely you will want to pack up all your things every time you want to make a trip.

A Mini Guide To Buying Your First Car

Whether you begin taking driving lessons at 17 or you get behind the wheel later in life, passing your driving test is a learner driver’s greatest achievement. After hours spent trying to master the art of manoeuvres, it’s time to say goodbye to the L plates and start searching for your very own set of wheels.

While buying your first car can be exciting, it can also be complicated. From choosing your make and model to getting to grips with finance deals, there are any number of things to consider – and without the necessary knowledge, it can be costly, too.

If you’re looking for some handy hints to help you on your way to owning your first run-around, our mini guide to buying your first car will get you on the road as quickly and safely as possible.


1. Should I buy a new car or a used car?


Buying a new car brings with it several benefits – from reducing the risk of wear and tear to exploring your colour options, new cars can be custom-built to suit the driver. Whether storage options and seating adjustments are high on your agenda or wheel trims and in-car tech take priority, buying new means you can choose the best spec for you.

While new cars come with bags of appeal, second hand motors still hold a prominent place on the UK’s roads – proving to be an easy and efficient car-buying option. Older cars come with one or more previous owner, meaning they have more character than a brand new model and are far cheaper than used cars meaning you can get a lot more motor for your money – so choosing between a new or used car really comes down to personal preference.

Top tip: if you decide to buy a used car, make sure you book a Pre-Purchase Inspection from ClickMechanic to have an independent mechanic check the vehicle over before you seal the deal.


2. Should I buy a car outright or through car finance?


As a first time buyer, you’ll have already shelled out a small fortune on driving lessons – so funds are likely to be a factor when considering your buying options. Buying a car outright means no monthly fees, but can be expensive – while finance allows you to spread out your payments, but can cost more in the long run.

Car finance means you could potentially opt for a newer, more expensive model, but many drivers avoid applying for car finance because they have a poor credit history and assume they will be automatically refused – however, this isn’t always the case. Finance companies will often offer flexible bad credit car finance deals – meaning you don’t have to part with a large amount of cash to secure your perfect car.

Whether you opted for an attractive finance deal or you’ve saved enough cash for the car of your dreams, the first step towards your new set of wheels is setting a realistic budget – so make sure you settle on a limit before you begin shopping around.

Top tip: don’t be swayed by attractive monthly instalment figures. Think of the cost of the car overall – taking into consideration its value and the amount you can realistically pay back.


3. What paperwork do I need to do?


Once you’ve signed and paid for the car, you become responsible for tax, insurance and MOT certificates. From printing out your insurance documents to checking the address on your driving licence, failing to keep your documents up-to-date could result in a hefty fine or even legal action – so organisation is key.

If you’re buying from a dealership, short-term insurance is often offered to allow you to drive your vehicle home – where you can set up your own insurance policy – and this should be a priority. Although you no longer have to display a tax disc, your vehicle still needs to be covered – so whether you do this online or at your local post office, be timely in getting your vehicle taxed.

Top tip: keep all of your car-related documents in one place – this way, you know where everything is when it comes to renewing your insurance or arranging your next MOT.

Whether you’re a newly qualified driver or thinking about taking your driving test, following these actionable tips will help you on your way to buying your first car – meaning you’ll be ready to hit the road as soon as possible.


Practical Guide: Should you Purchase or Lease Fleet Vehicles?

As anyone who has ever owned their own vehicle can testify, it can be a costly and often stressful pastime. While the basic cost of fuelling and insuring a car can be expensive enough by itself, this can triple in the event of an unforeseen accident or unexpected breakdown. While this may be bad enough, however, imagine the issues that can develop when you are a business owner who owns a large commercial fleet that is central to the successful delivery of the products and services.

To Buy or Lease Vehicles: Which Option Suits your Circumstances?

With this in mind, it is worth considering the option of leasing fleet vehicles through a service provider such as Hitachi Capital Vehicle Solutions. Consider the following points before making a decision:

  • How regularly do you use your Vehicles? Before committing to a final decision, it is important that you evaluate how often you use your vehicles on a daily basis. Should you accumulate high mileage and use each vehicle to complete tasks that are at the heart of your business, for example, then leasing vehicles may help you to minimize your costs while protecting you in the event of a breakdown. The purpose of your fleet is also an important consideration, as you may be willing to invest more   in core commercial assets.
  • Do your Cars have Resale Value? While business owners tend to bemoan the financial burden that ownership brings during a period of recession, the act of purchasing vehicles can occasionally be considered as an investment opportunity. So before you chose to lease rather than buy cars, consider the long-term value in each vehicle and whether they can be resold for a profit? While this is highly unlikely given the fact that cars tend to depreciate in value over time, it is worth taking the time to appraise your options.
  • Can you Manage Monthly Repayments? The current economic situation is buoyant, but British businesses must still be cautious when spending and strive to manage their finances prudently. So while lease agreements may offer considerable logistical and financial advantages, you must take the time to review the precise terms and ensure that can meet your monthly repayments. Just because an option may be cheaper, it does not mean that you are in a position to repay lease fees and costs on a monthly basis.

The Car Buyer’s Bible

We’ve recently been featured in The Car Loan Warehouse’s Car Buyer’s Bible. Available as an eBook it will guide you through the steps in the car buying process.

In the eBook, you’ll find a complete car buyer’s breakdown, with everything from family hatchbacks to rugged off-roaders. With expert tips on market-dominating models and a ton of vital buying info, this eBook is the key to a regret-free car purchase.

Find it here at the The Car Loan Warehouse.

Buying a Second Hand Mercedes

You have probably heard the famous lyrics: ‘Oh Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes-Benz?’ and quietly thought to yourself about how great it would be for the good Lord to benevolently reward you with a car. Unfortunately the harsh reality of these somewhat optimistic lyrics is that this won’t happen; what you can realistically do though is purchase yourself a second hand motor.

There will be some people who would be immediately put off by the ‘second hand’ aspect of car ownership, but this need not be the case. Yes, there are some key points to think through before you jump in and buy your dream vehicle, cost and condition being two of the most important. So to ensure you are completely satisfied and end up with the car you want, consider the following points:

Reliable Retailer

First and foremost, you need a reliable seller. A Mercedes is a car with prestige, so it needs to be sourced from an equally respected dealer and online selling is proving to be more popular than scouring nearby dealership forecourts.

Websites will only list vehicles from authentic retailers and won’t allow private sellers to leave falsified information – Exchange & Mart being an example which offers this honest, straightforward method.

Mileage and Models

Different classes mean different costs, in much the same way the mileage of the car can greatly affect its value. Read up about the different types of Mercedes, what the plusses and minuses are for each and more significantly how higher mileage and fuel type affect their running.

Cost, Condition and Care

After you’ve sourced an appropriate seller and decided on the type of Mercedes you want, the three Cs of ‘cost’ ‘condition’ and ‘care’ will be at the forefront of a buyer’s mind.

  • Cost – research the average costs of second hand cars with the some model and mileage as yours to make sure you’re in the right ballpark while at the same time shopping for insurance.
  • Condition – don’t take the car on face value. The exterior may appear pristine but be sure to ask for a comprehensive breakdown of the current state of the engine, brakes, tyres and electrics.
  • Care – ask for the full service and MOT history and get the seller to explain any suspicious looking work done to ensure the longevity of your car.

The Finer Details

These are your final checks for little things that can affect the sale. When buying in-store or online, ensure you refer back to the research you have gathered and ask questions if there is anything at all you are still not sure about.

This will allow you wiggle room for potential bartering and ensure you get the Mercedes you want for the right money.

How To Buy A Second-hand Car? The Research

A second-hand Ford Capri with a sketchy past?

Buying a used car is a great idea, as you’ll be able to get your hands on an awesome vehicle at often a fraction of the price you would buying it new. However, buying a new car can seem like a daunting prospect with brand, model and more to consider. With the second-hand car route you’ll have to consider even more such as service history, condition and value to ensure that you end up we a great deal.

Having a structured approach when buying a second-hand car can help you sift through the large offering of cars in a more efficient way. If you have not, already, a preference for a certain car brand and model we would suggest starting off your research with deciding what type of car you are looking for. Are you most of all looking for a car with plenty of space? Then limit your search to Estate cars, People carriers, SUVs or vans of some kind. Are you rather looking for something a little more sporty? Then, obviously, go for a sports car but don’t dismiss many of the hot hatches, or even hot estates, which combine practical with fun.

Once you have decided on the type of car you prefer then it’s time to consider which manufacturer to go for and consider some practicalities. The web can help here massively, sites like or have large databases with information of most cars made in the last few years, useful if you buy a recent second-hand car. Best of all, you can put the cars side by side and compare the cars on a number of parameters. Usually, the practicalities you would be interested in are the engine sizes, fuel economy, boot space, weight and speed. On top of that the more in-depth reviews give more, subjective, information on the feel of the car, the way it handles and quality of the materials used in the car. It will give you a good idea about the car being a worthwhile prospect. You wouldn’t want to end up with a car that might be great in terms of fuel economy but handles inadequately and is made using unreliable components, would you?

Once you have selected a couple of models (from different brands) put them on a list and go and try to see each model in real life. Check for the practicalities mentioned earlier, like space, materials and ergonomics of controls. This should give you a good feeling of which car suits you best and which car you should then pursue.

Once you have found the model of your choice don’t just jump at the first good deal that comes along and buy the car, instead find a couple of examples of the same model on sale and go and see them. You might find that one car is way better than another, sometimes even at a better price. Some might not have been maintained very well, others might have done a huge number of miles others might start heading into the direction where major components start to wear out and would have to be replaced or rebuild.

Just think of an expensive cam belt or a camshaft change, or a gearbox rebuild. All things you want to avoid, unless you’re happy to put lots of money into a car you just bought. Importantly, don’t dismiss the small issues either, they can quickly turn into rather larger issues. Just think of a tiny leak in the interior, the dampness can quickly cause parts of the interior to go mouldy. You will find that there are always better cars out there with less work for a similar or even better price. It might take some extra time, but buying wisely can save you lots of Pounds in the long run, not to mention many headaches.

Having found a couple of cars you like it’s time for a test drive (more on that in our next post in this series). That said, if the seller does not allow you a test drive, then turn round and walk away, very quickly indeed. The seller will have something to hide, or he just doesn’t want to sell you the car, of course. It might be that you do not have the confidence to have a go at buying a car on your own. In that case our mechanics are always there to help you, consider a pre-purchase inspection with one of our mechanics.


Top 5 Cars That Depreciate The Most

Based only on the amount of depreciation one could say that buying a new car is one of the most stupid things you could possibly do. Some cars suffer from such a monumental loss of value in their early years that for the money you lose, you could buy a very decent used car. That said, some cars depreciate more than others, the result of their desirability of course. For that reason, let’s have a look at the top 5 cars on sale in Britain that depreciate the most over 3 years.
1. Aixam Mega e-City


Depreciation over 3 years amounted to a massive 89.1%. We’re not sure if this even should be called a car?

2. Volvo S80 Saloon T6 AWD SE Lux 4dr Geartronic


This proud Swede loses much of its economic pride by depreciating a quite considerable 79.6% over 3 years.

3. Vauxhall Zafari Estate (05-) 1.6i Exclusiv 5dr


This car will probably cost you about the same amount in depreciation over 3 years as 3 years’ worth of diapers for the children you transport in it; 76.7%.

4. Peugeot 508 Saloon (11-) 1.6 VTi 120 Access 4dr EGC


The car for the traveling salesman that no traveling salesman wants to lease, let alone own. Perhaps exclusively resalable to fellow Francophiles. Which is why it depreciates an enormous 76.2% in just three years.

5. Lexus LS Saloon (12-) 460 4.6 Luxury 4dr Auto


Really, we’re surprised this well-made luxury cruiser manages to lose 75.6% of its value in just 3 years. At least the Lexus was hugely expensive to begin with.


Photo: Manufacturers + Vauxhall Zafira