Think Insurance, UK, Walsall
Car Lime

Tips And Information For Buying A Used Car

Our Guide To Help Prevent You Buying A Lemon

Purchasing a car can be a daunting experience, especially if you don’t know a lot about cars, which can make buying a used car particularly stressful.

Do Your Research

Buying a car can be a long process, so it’s a good idea to create a shortlist of cars you would like to view and test drive. Search online for cars you like the look of and those which suit your needs, then find some reviews from other people that drive those cars to see what they say about them. You could also try consulting motoring forums for their opinions on the cars you have picked out. You need to research running costs, repair costs, and insurance quotes; especially the latter if you’re a young driver. Giving yourself an idea of what you want to look at before you visit a dealership will help make the process quicker, and give you a bit of confidence when viewing the cars.

MOT & Service History

For those that do not know, MOT stands for Ministry Of Transport and is used to refer to the MOT test that all cars must undergo once a year. An MOT history can give you invaluable information about the car you are looking at. You will want to find out if it needed any work on its last MOT, but remember, only cars that are three years old and over need an MOT, so if you’re looking at a car that’s only a year old then it won’t have any MOT history. After three years a car will need an MOT annually, so you need to find out when the car’s MOT is due. If it’s soon then you can use that information to lower the price of the car. You also may want to see when it was last serviced, and of course its service history. Be sure to check if it’s been involved in any major collisions, as this may cause problems in the future - even if the car looks and works fine now.


Take Someone With You

Preferably someone with more knowledge about cars than yourself, but a second opinion is always beneficial coming from anyone. Plus the person you take along won’t have any bias and should be able to give you an honest opinion on the car, and just as importantly, the seller.

Check Everything Works And Everything Is There

If the car has electric windows, make sure they work and there isn’t a problem with any of them. Test the windscreen wipers; do they need to be changed? If so you can ask to knock the replacement cost off the asking price. Remember to check the lights, on dim, normal and full beam. Check the mirrors can be adjusted, the stereo system works, and check anything else that can go wrong. It’s best to check a car in good light and weather conditions as rain can help hide scratches and dents.

Go For A Test Drive

One of the most obvious steps of buying a car is the test drive, which is important for many reasons. Firstly because you want to make sure you enjoy driving the car, especially if it’s something you are going to use every day, to commute to work for example. Secondly, it will give you the opportunity to spot any faults, and test how well it accelerates and breaks. Be sure to check the steering, making sure it doesn’t veer to one side. When the car is started, check for any excessive smoke coming from the exhaust. When you are driving the car, make sure to do it with the radio off and with as little conversation as possible so you can listen to the car, just to make sure there aren’t any weird and strange noises.

Black Car

Check The Finance History

This may come up with new cars more often than older ones, but it’s still something to be wary about. According to, 1 in 4 vehicles that were HPI (Hire Purchase Investigation) checked in 2010 still had finance on them. There are many stories on the Internet of people who haven’t checked a car’s finance history and find themselves several thousand pounds out of pocket. This is because car finance works similar to a mortgage, the lender (finance company) own the car until the debt has been paid off. If you’re buying from a private seller then you should really get the car HPI checked; it’s only £19.99 which is incredibly cheap compared to the thousands you could lose out on if someone tries to dishonestly sell you a car that has finance left to pay on it.

HPI Checks

A HPI check doesn’t just check if a used car has finance left on it, it can also look into the number of previous owners, if the vehicle has been recorded as stolen on the Police National Computer, whether the DVLA has marked it as scrapped or an insurance company has written it off, if the logbook & V5C belong to the car, the amount of times the number plates have been changed (not the physical plates but the numbers on them), if the car has been imported/exported, and it can check that the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) is correct. It can also give you a correct reading of the mileage, an estimation of the fuel cost and a valuation of the car.

Negotiate A Lower Price

When buying a used car, even if the price of the car is reasonable, don’t let the seller know this; always put an offer under the listed or sticker price. Don’t start with a number, instead ask the seller how much they would be able to move on the listed price - you might save yourself a few pounds. There are also better times to buy cars from dealers, particularly at the end of each quarter (March, June, September and December) when dealers have targets to meet, meaning they are more likely to give you a better deal - but don’t leave it until the last day!


Once you’ve bought your new car you’re going to need insurance, and if you’re a young driver or a convicted driver, you may struggle to find a reasonable insurance quote just be searching the internet. The best way to get a good price and great customer service, is by speaking to a specialist broker. Think Insurance have a team of experts that have experience getting great quotes for young drivers and convicted drivers. Get in touch today!