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A Few Things to Be Wary of When Buying a Used Car

| In Buying Guides

When you are looking for your next used car, you can expect to see a huge amount of vehicles. If you don’t know your cam belt from your dip stick then the following tips should help you pick a good quality used car... There is little point having a look at many different used cars and only checking a few features, so make sure you put these tips into practice next time you view a used car.

Tyre Depth

car tyre tread

One majorly important thing to check on any used car you are considering buying is its tread depth. Not only are well-worn tyres dangerous (they can drastically influence your car’s breaking distance), but they are also illegal. 1.6mm is the legal limit for tire tread depth in the UK. If you are caught driving with tires that fall below this tread depth then you can be fined £2,500 and 3 penalty points per tyre.

A cheap and easy way to check the tire tread on a used car before you buy it and risk the chance of an accident or a fine is by using a 20p.

Simply find the deepest tread on your tyre and place the 20p flat-side down into the groove. If you can any of the outer edge of the coin then your tyres may be illegal.

It is expected that every car you look at will have some oil leakage visible over its engine when you lift the bonnet. But if there is obviously quite a lot more then it could indicate a serious problem with the oil pump or gaskets. Again a real excess of oil can indicate that the car has not been cared for as well as it could have been and could suggest that the car has not been thoroughly inspected by staff.


One common issue that manual transmission used cars can have is a worn out clutch. The only way you can effectively check a manual clutch for slippage is to drive the used car over 40mph. This allows you to feel any slippage as you change gears. You can tell when this occurs when the revs go up but the performance stays the same. If this happens then make it known to the staff at the dealership and move on to the next used car.


Diesel cars have been required to have something called a DPF (Diesel Particulate filter), a filter that manufactures have beenfitting since 2009; they are used to limit the amount of soot that diesel engines produce. This filter collects particles of soot and to be effective, needs to be regenerated periodically. This is where the filter becomes very hot and burns up the soot, to get hot the car needs to be driven at speeds of over 40mph. Depending on how blocked the filter is it could take anywhere between 10-40 minutes to clear the filter.

If the previous owner of a used diesel model does not regularly “open up” on a stretch of road then the filter becomes clogged up and does not function properly. So you must check that the DPF warning light is not showing, if it is then it is a good indication that the previous driver has not been looking after their car.



Source: The NRMA

Convertibles with soft-top roofs can have a problem that is unique to them; the sealing washers that hold the folding mechanisms in the roof can wear out and perish. This can cause damage to the inner workings of the roof and can of course allow water to leak down into the interior of the car and ruin the upholstery. So a simple check of these little washers can save you a lot of money and stress later on!

We hope these tips will be helpful as you search for your perfect used car. Maybe Cargiant can help you in your search even more; browse our stock and maybe you’ll find your next used car here. And be assured that we do a full check on any cars that we sell!




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