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Be confident about buying a car

Worried about buying a banger instead of a bargain?

Well don’t be. Anxiety is likely to be the biggest worry you’ll suffer when buying a used car, but there are a few key things that you need to look out for which can make a difference.

That’s why online car parts provider, Euro Car Parts has come up with the top five things to look out for when buying a used car. Here we go:

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1 Full service history: A car is designed to be maintained at regular intervals. If this is done well and by reputable and qualified people, a car should last for many years.

There are still lots of motors from the 1960s still driving around, and the chances are that unless they were put together using magic, it’s because they’ve had regular servicing carried out by specialists.

A car that hasn’t had a full history of servicing is likely to have developed additional wear and tear.

You might be lucky, and if something goes wrong it’s not likely to be anything that can’t be fixed, but when it involves your hard-earned money, you want to be sure the car is in good condition.

After all, if the engine drops out a month after you’ve bought it, that’s going to cost you a pretty penny to repair.

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2 A good length of time until its next MOT: It may not seem crucial but think about it – most people know when their car is going to fail its MOT.

If a vehicle is out of MOT or only has a few weeks remaining, there is a good chance that the person selling it knows full well that it won’t pass or has significant issues that are going to cost a lot to fix.

A short MOT should set off alarm bells because there’s a possibility it means that something is being covered up.

If a used car has a long MOT, it’s a reason to have confidence in it, and it also gives you a little extra time to put some cash aside for your next one.

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3 Check the advert: Before viewing a car, the chances are you’ll know if it’s priced fairly because you’ll have been looking at similar ones.

If you turn up and view a car covered in scratches that has been described as “a fabulous example” then you are well within your rights to ask for a discount.

Additionally, checking the specification of the car against what was advertised is just as important, particularly as cars are becoming complicated beasts with more gadgets and toys than a smartphone.

Ordinary folk – and even some professionals – can accidentally advertise the wrong specification, so it’s something you should really be aware of.

This also applies to the paperwork and documentation. Check that what has been promised is all present, so you don’t get any nasty surprises further down the road.

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4 Always test drive the car: This is really important. During a test drive there are going to be several things you’re going to want to check.

The engine, gearbox, interior gadgets, handling, brakes, the feel of the car during cornering and the way it drives on several different types of roads.

A proper test drive should take at least an hour and is ultimately the most important part of the viewing.

Certain signs that there could be a major issue include blue smoke from the exhaust, which indicates that the car is burning oil and the head gasket is about to blow – often a terminal condition for many vehicles.

If you need to put your foot deep into the clutch pedal to change gears, that could mean the clutch needs replacing.

Uncomfortable and unpleasant knocking and banging could signify any number of problems and unpredictable or unnatural movements during acceleration or braking should be immediate cause to walk away from a vehicle – for your safety, more than anything else.

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5 The condition of the interior: Checking the state of the interior is often the best way to tell how much a car has been driven. The mileage count on many vehicles can be altered, and it’s an infamous problem on the used car market.

Assess the seating for excessive wear around the edges and the quality of frequently pressed buttons and knobs within a car.

Pay particular attention to the steering wheel, if it’s shiny in places where hands would usually rest, that could be a sign that this car has spent a long time with somebody in it.

The clock can lie, but the condition of that interior space certainly won’t.

Buying a used car can be stressful, but with these tips, hopefully you’ll be armed with extra knowledge and feel more confident.

Remember, getting a new car (fresh off the lot or not) should be an experience to enjoy, particularly if you’re going for something you’ve always wanted.

So take your time, check everything that you can and learn about the car you’re interested in buying.

If you follow these pieces of advice, you should end up with a car you can be proud of.

How to care for an older car here: