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From MOT test checks to regional discounts – here’s the ultimate used car buyer’s guide

Looking to save on your next car? You’ve come to the right place. Armed with our buyer’s guide, enjoy a comprehensive snapshot of the used car market – and get the best brands at the best prices.

 

used car buyers guide
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First things first – location matters. You’ll want to target sellers based in towns like Kilwinning, Kilmarnock and Prestwick, Gloucester and Wellingborough. Our research indicates these are the cheapest towns on average. To put this in perspective, a 2015 Land Rover Discovery Sport is less than £20,000 if you’re willing to head north, while the same car with the same mileage is £3,200 more expensive closer to London. Such a saving covers the cost of travel – and then some. 

Want more? Our infographic is chock-full of fascinating cost-saving insights.

That said, used cars can present problems – and mileage is a big factor. The more miles on the clock, the harder the car has had to work. Buying from a seller in Walton, Peterborough, Sheffield, Bristol or Heaton Chapel? Check the clock before making a purchase. Cars from these areas have typically driven the most number of miles.   


The MOT test is a must 
To guard against breakdowns on the road, all cars must pass a Ministry of Transport (MOT) test once they are three years of age, and from this point forward, the MOT test must be taken annually. 

Before committing to a used car, ask the seller when the MOT test was last taken. A month ago? Six months ago? Once the car is in your name it is your responsibility to take the car to a testing facility every year. 
What to look out for before heading to the testing facility 

It’s all very well buying the used car of your dreams, but if it fails its MOT at the first hurdle, it’s no better than an old banger. Check out the ATS Euromaster Pre-MOT guide or consult our quick tips below.

Watch out for: 

Broken lights or unrepaired indicators.

  • Walk around the front and back of the car and make sure that everything is in working order. This goes for the registration light too, a small attachment at the back of your car that illuminates the plate in darkness. 


Faulty suspension.

  • More than one in ten cars fail because of suspension issues. 

Here’s a trick: park the car and check for a level ride height. Next, push down on each corner of the car. If the car bumps up and down several times before returning to a level height, get the suspension checked.

 Worn brakes

  • Are your brakes squeaking? Do they bring the car to a clean stop as intended, or does the car veer off to one side? These are signs that you have issues to sort out.

 

Bald tyres.

  • Insert a 20p coin into the tyre tread on your tyres. If you can see the raised edge of the coin, your tread is lower than the 1.6mm minimum. Abrasions are another cause for concern. 

 

Windscreen cracks, broken wipers and aftermarket objects that block the driver’s view of the road (think sat-navs). 

  • Do a thorough inspection of the inside of the car – removing anything that might obscure your view of the road – while fixing any issues with the windscreen and bonnet. 

 

Buying used can be a wonderful cost-saving exercise, but with so many deals on the market, it pays to do your research. With luck, our infographic will help you get the car of your dreams at a fraction of the price. But remember – book your MOT before the certificate expires.

Research conducted between Oct- Dec '19 analysing public listings on used car sale website findandfundmycar.com.