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Top tips when buying a used car

Quentin Wilson sat on the bonnet of a black car

So how do you avoid paying more for your used car than expected?

We’ve teamed up with motoring journalist Quentin Willson to share his seven top tips for when you’re buying a used car.

1. Trust your gut.

If you don’t like the seller – private or dealer – walk away.

2. Pay attention to paperwork.

Look for cars with fully stamped service histories and previous MoT certificates.

3. Check the car’s previous MoTs.

If it’s ever failed; what repairs were needed and make sure the mileage goes up – not down!

4. Take a friend, family member or expert with you.

Having two sets of eyes is better than one.

5. You can always insist that the sale is conditional.

Based on the car having a fresh MoT with an independent inspector.

6. Buy the newest and lowest mileage you can.

Cars with under 50,000 miles will be easier to sell later.

7. Get a vehicle history check.

So you can see if it’s been written off, stolen, clocked or has a questionable past.

Watch Quentin Willson's top tips

Quentin Willson talks us through a few simple tips when buying a used car.

A smiling couple in a car

A record number of second-hand cars were sold in the UK last year1 – more than three times as many as brand new ones2.  Superminis proved the most popular, as demonstrated by sales (33.8%) between July and September 20163.

When you’re looking to upgrade or downsize your current car, or even at a sportier model, it can be an exciting time. But there can be challenges too. So, with your hard-earned money at stake, what factors need to be considered before you can sign on the dotted line?

Things to consider when buying a used car

84% chance of breakdown

Cars over 3 years old have an 84% chance of mechanical or electrical breakdown in the subsequent three-year period4.

8.4% chance of gearbox repairs

8.4% of problems reported to a leading warranty provider were gearbox repairs. Electrical was 8.2%, clutch 7.8%, turbo 4.7% and brakes 4.7%4.

70,000 miles

The average mileage for cars developing a fault was 70,000 miles.

£363m spent on fixing faults

Over £363m was spent by drivers over a 12-month period to fix faults5.

2,519 complaints about used cars brought to Citizen’s Advice in a two week period

Of the 2,519 complaints to Citizens Advice about a bought used car in a two-week period, 80% needed urgent repairs, 53% developed faults within a month of purchase, 6% of vehicles ended up being scrapped5.