I'm planning to write a guide with all my advice for buying used vehicles, what else do I include?

Discussion in 'transport' started by stuff_it, Oct 26, 2018.

  1. stuff_it

    stuff_it stirred the primordial soup

    An aquaintence of mine has absolutely terrible car sense, and I realised that actually I know a fair bit about buying motors at the skint end of the market. I thought I would chuck it all together into a blog article as I figure a lot of people will find it helpful.

    What are some of Urban's top tips for buying used motors?
    skyscraper101 and A380 like this.
  2. DownwardDog

    DownwardDog Riding a Brompton with a power meter.

    There is no value at the "skint" end of the market. If you get something decent, it's by blind luck. The real bargains are in the "shed" category between 1k and 5k.
    If the engine isn't stone cold when you get there, don't bother. Ditto mismatched tyres, any sign of bodywork repair or crusty battery terminals.
    Always say the wheel bearings are clapped and demand a lot of money off as a consequence.
    Always say it has a vacuum leak and demand a lot of money off as a consequence.
    Test every single switch and button. Every one that doesn't work is 100 quid off.
    Always do an ODB2 scan. Every fault code is 100 quid off.
    Never consider any Jaguar/Land Rover product. This should be in 48 point Comic Sans at the top.
    Always buy private. Dealers whether second hand or main are absolute amoral scum. Every single one of them.
    Make a ruthless assessment of the owner and their likely bullshit reason for selling.
    Always be prepared to walk away. There are a million other cars out there.

    Don't get squeamish about fucking the seller. The car game is a Hobbesian war of all against all.
    ringo, BassJunkie, nogojones and 22 others like this.
  3. stuff_it

    stuff_it stirred the primordial soup

    I'm pretty sure that a couple of broken buttons would lead to the seller paying me to take the car off their hands. :D

    That said, my friend doesn't even seem able to grasp the concept that you don't buy a car needing welding/major work unless you are able and willing to do that work yourself.

    I was thinking more actual advice though...

    • You're better off with a brand known for reliability that's a bit older rather than something known for being poor quality but newer
    • Try to look for signs that it's ever been someone's pride and joy
    • Google common faults and check for them
    • Don't buy a used car if they've just steam-cleaned the engine
    • etc
    circleline and mojo pixy like this.
  4. A380

    A380 How do I change this 'custom title' thing then?

    All the above and:

    Never buy a car in the rain.
    Never buy a car in the dark.
    Never buy a car in the rain and the dark.

    Never buy a car with ‘too many’ odd wires - it’s probably been a mini cab or a police car.
    Never buy an ex mini cab or police car.

    Never buy a car in a car park, outside ‘where someone works’ or if they bring the car to you - it’s not a pizza. Also never buy a car where they have ‘forgotten’ to bring the log book but will post it on

    Don’t buy a second hand car where two tyres will cost more than the car. However cool it is.

    Never buy a car that smells of wet dogs, unless you like the smell of wet dogs.

    Buy a Toyota.
    wiskey, Spymaster, kebabking and 3 others like this.
  5. a_chap

    a_chap Much research has shown I am just fucking stupid

    Don't fail to check the battery is properly secured.

    And then - crucially - don't buy the car, take a wrong turn on the way home, slam on the brakes and have the battery fall out and set your newly purchased car on fire.

    wiskey, OzT, HAL9000 and 7 others like this.
  6. Chilli.s

    Chilli.s changed the little words

    Friend of mine bought a fabulous police car. "Last of the v8 s" we called it in a Mad Max voice. Rover sd1 with a big speedo in the middle of the dash, loadsa extra strong bits and well serviced. It crapped out on him in Basingstoke, so he hitched round having left it in a carpark, bad battery. Went out on the piss and a late one at that. Next morning, we go to B'stoke and true enough it wont fire up. Of to halfords for a big expensive battery to turn the beast of an engine over, and it works, follow him to a petrol station where he puts his last fiver of fuel in. 400 yards later and a big smokescreen pouring out the back it claps out again. The dickhead has put diesel in by accident in his hungover trance. Karma in the car?
    kebabking, A380 and 8ball like this.
  7. JuanTwoThree

    JuanTwoThree I care not for the wealth of Gyges

    Don't buy a Rover 75.
    kebabking and Poi E like this.
  8. danski

    danski Comfortable chair.

    Re-spray? Walk away.
    a_chap and kebabking like this.
  9. mauvais

    mauvais change has become unavoidable

    Read the MOT history online, look at the mileage pattern, try to form a view of whether any failures are reasonable or imply neglect.

    Forget about stereotypes (brand, nationality, etc) and look at the specifics (that model, that year and the actual fucking car in front of you) of what you're buying.

    If you want a potential bargain, buy something that has fallen out of favour, like a big French saloon/estate.

    Find out about the big maintenance liabilities like cambelt.

    Remember that in the end it's random chance and luck.
  10. existentialist

    existentialist There's gonna be moquette!

    Kick the tyres.
    A380, hash tag and Teaboy like this.
  11. mojo pixy

    mojo pixy unquantifiable hazards

    Check the most recent MOT for advisories, obviously - if possible, get the seller to have it MOT'd before buying and offer to pay for the test. Not a £40 you'll regret spending, and on the price of a new car not a great burden.

    Drive it, Drive it looking for problems. Ask about everything, every squeak every buzz, every rattle every rumble. Test every switch and every gear, get up to 60mph at least if you can. Reverse it, get full lock both sides with the steering wheel, test its limits. Get up to 20mph in 1st gear and listen. Emergency stop hard, if you get the chance (If the seller's in the car with you, warn them first). Try and move off in 2nd gear on a flat road and if it stalls, forget it.

    Rust? Nope. Look underneath if you can (though an MOT will show up anything vital and if you hang around for the test you can look for yourself)

    Are those tyres new, or just looking new? (check the tread, not just the sides)

    I buy cheap and run into the ground, it's a good way to go if you're careful and patient.
  12. skyscraper101

    skyscraper101 0891 50 50 50

  13. Teaboy

    Teaboy It definitely looks brighter over there..

    I feel the '75' bit was superfluous there.
    MickiQ, kebabking, Poi E and 3 others like this.
  14. JuanTwoThree

    JuanTwoThree I care not for the wealth of Gyges

    Any Rover is a bad idea. But I'd buy another P5B like a shot. But I'm not allowed, by financial constraints and by my partner.
    A380 and existentialist like this.
  15. 8ball


    By those rules I'd be paying you a couple of grand to take my car away. :D
    Spymaster, kebabking and A380 like this.
  16. joustmaster

    joustmaster offcumdun

    I'm probably looking to spend 5k on a car soon. I've no idea about them at all. So I have questions...

    Stone cold? So if they've driven it before I arrive its no good for some reason? Why?
    Is a vacuum leak a real thing, or is it like sending someone for a long weight, or tartan paint?
    ODB2 scan? Is there an app for that? Do I need a special hat or something? What is it? Is he the dude from the wutan clan

    How can you tell?

    Is there a list of cars that have fallen out of favour? Like all green cars, or cars with sun roofs? Whats the crack?
    How do I find out about maintenance liabilities? From where? Just ask the seller if they've cleaned it clam's belt, or something?

    Why am I doing these things? What am I looking for?
    spanglechick and A380 like this.
  17. hash tag

    hash tag never too old

    As mauvais says, forget stereotypes. Had I conformed to that I would never have bought my Brera.....a stylish car, with character. Forget practical, she is supposed to be a 2+2
    but the backs seats cannot be used, the boot is tiny, visibility is not brilliant. Do I regret buying her all those years ago; no chance (and shes getting old now). :thumbs:

    Extending what mauvais says, check for paperwork for full history. It helps to know the car has been properly maintained and you can see whats been done and what may need doing.
  18. hash tag

    hash tag never too old

    joustmaster rather than answer all your questions, I would suggest you take someone who knows about cars with you when you go to buy a car.
    ice-is-forming likes this.
  19. mauvais

    mauvais change has become unavoidable

    Think about what most people like now - 'premium' brands like Audi or BMW, and form factors like SUVs or 'crossovers'. Then buy the opposite of that, something that's unpopular used not because it was shit but because tastes have changed. The whole middle section of the market has fallen out of favour - e.g. Renault have stopped selling anything bigger than a Megane, hardly anyone dares buy an old Alfa Romeo, etc etc, so there's potential (not necessarily a guaranteed win) there.

    Research or read the handbook. For example on the Crapola Caromatic, the cambelt needs replacing every 30,000 miles or 5 years, whichever is sooner, and it typically costs 500 groats to get replaced, so you want to be looking at paperwork that says it was done last Wednesday and not in 2012.
    A380 likes this.
  20. joustmaster

    joustmaster offcumdun

    I do not now anyone who has any clue at all.
    Amongst my friends I am considered the one who knows the most as I can top the oil up and have driven a lot of cars.
    Edie likes this.
  21. joustmaster

    joustmaster offcumdun

    Got you - I think I understand the shape of car you mean.

    I didn't know the manual told you how long the cars bits last for. I've never had a car with a manual or paper work... Are they standard things that come with them when you buy them?
  22. mojo pixy

    mojo pixy unquantifiable hazards

    Driving at speed, you're looking for odd noises and the steering pulling one way or another, smooth quiet suspension, and engine temperature. Also looking for any power issues while accelerating. Similarly over-revving the engine in first. Listen to it, does anything start to whine, rattle, how does the exhaust look / sound?

    Getting to full lock to again check for noises which might indicate wear or looseness. I had a car once where full lock made power steering fluid leak. It's about testing limits you don't normally get to, but where you can see potential future problems developing.

    Emergency stop should be obvious, always hard stop a car you've never driven as soon as possible, just to make sure. Do it twice in case the first time loosens something.

    Moving off in 2nd is basically a clutch test; if the clutch isn't good it'll stall. But it also strains the engine briefly which can reveal power issues or cylinder problems. Again its about looking for issues that aren't urgent now but might be in six months' time.

    My advice isn't really for buying from ''Authorised resellers'' with onsite workshops and years of free servicing. This is for buying from a small yard, or at someone's house. Something old and cheap and not guaranteed, or with a short 3 month warranty.
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2018
  23. mauvais

    mauvais change has become unavoidable

    Yes. They might have lost bits by the time it gets to old age, but you should still be able to download a PDF of a manual from somewhere, just like for an old washing machine or whatever.
    joustmaster likes this.
  24. DownwardDog

    DownwardDog Riding a Brompton with a power meter.

    Cold engines are harder to start. So if it's hot when you get there it's possible they've warmed it up to hide a starting issue.
    Vacuum leaks are real and very common on older cars. So it might even be true when you say it.
    You can do ODB2 scans with an app but you'll need a Bluetooth connector for the ODB2 port.
    A380 and mojo pixy like this.
  25. stuff_it

    stuff_it stirred the primordial soup

    I can't usually afford a car with a full service history, yet I don't have the trouble my friend has by a long shot. Mind you, I've been kicked out of used car places for knowing too much about cars.

    If there's no/missing paperwork you can look up recent MOTs online, and there are other clues that might show a car has been cared for - a brand new full size spare, one key new and one very worn indicates a careful owner who put one key safe at home and never lost their main keyring, etc...
  26. joustmaster

    joustmaster offcumdun

    Thanks. That sounds useful... Cheers.
    mojo pixy likes this.
  27. joustmaster

    joustmaster offcumdun

    So its like some sort of serial port on a car? Cool. I'm going to see if mine has one.
  28. 8ball


    Supposing the power curve felt a bit 'bumpy' under acceleration - what would that mean?
  29. Poi E

    Poi E Pessimism: a valuable protection against quackery.

    You've run over someone.
    equationgirl, wiskey, blairsh and 7 others like this.
  30. 8ball


    But I only ever get calls about an “accident that wasn’t my fault”. :confused:
    dervish likes this.

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