You've probably decided to go for a used car instead of a brand new one in order to save some money. However much you're spending, it is likely to be a big investment, so it pays to gather all of the right information. With this in mind, here are five questions you should definitely ask before making a second-hard purchase...
1. How many owners has the vehicle had?
Perhaps the first thing you need to establish is how many people have owned the car so far. If the car is nearly new, you want to hear the seller come back with 'one', before showing you some proof. If you're looking at a vehicle which has only been on the road for 12 months and it's already had three owners, alarm bells should ring.
2. When is the next MOT due?
Without an MOT, you can't go anywhere, so be sure to find out how long is left on the current certificate. As a rule of thumb, it's good to get at least six months, but obviously the closer to a full year the better. Quite often, people will look to sell a vehicle when they know that the next test is coming up and work is needed to ensure it passes. If the vehicle does only have a couple of months left but everything else looks good, there's no harm in agreeing to buy it on the condition that it makes it through the next official check.
3. Can I take it for a test drive?
A car can look a million dollars but unless it moves smoothly and suits your driving style, it won't be a great investment. Ask about taking the vehicle for a test drive and see how long the seller is willing to let you disappear for. Anything less than 'yes, of course' should cause concern and aim for half an hour if you agree not to travel too far.
4. Has any repair work been carried out recently?
Whether it's down to an accident or simple wear and tear, car parts will inevitably break or fail from time to time. While you won't want to hear anything negative about the vehicle, it could be a good sign if any perishables have been replaced. Listen out for parts like exhausts, clutches, cam belts and tyres - the newer they are, the less likely it is that you'll have to fix them yourself.
5. Is there a warranty included?
When you're buying a new car, a warranty can provide real peace of mind. If one is available, find out how long it runs for and what exactly is covered and whether it can be extended to cover extra years.
Finding the perfect car is all about attention to detail. By making sure you cover all of the essentials with the seller, you'll be in a better position to enjoy years of hassle-free motoring.