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The KwikGuide to
Buying a used car
Section 1: The Search
what to look for
check the costs
where to look
where to buyarranging to viewSection 2: The Car

oily bits
test driving
Section 3: The Dealhagglingarranging to payI've been conned!
useful links
Kwik checklist
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Buying a used car

checking the inside

Now turn your attention to the inside. And first off, have a good sniff. Cigarette smoke? Pets? Open the ashtray for smoking evidence.

More seriously, a musty or mouldy smell could indicate water leaks. They can
be hell to find and fix. Have a good feel of the carpets right up to under the pedals and under the seats. Pull them back if you can. Definitely lift up the floormats to check for dampness. Similarly check the rubbers around the windscreen for mould. If there's any doubt, find another car.

KwikTip: always get a car insurance quote from Direct Line too,
as they don't take part in the price comparison websites.

Seats: sit on them all, even if you don't intend to sit in the back. The driver's
seat may be more worn, but there certainly shouldn't be any sagging, rips or
bad wear on a car that's supposed to have low miles on it. If there are covers,
peel them back and have a look underneath. Look out for not-so-obvious
cigarette burns, which can turn into rips and tears very quickly.

Try all the seat adjustments including the steering wheel height/reach
adjustment to make sure you can get into a comfortable driving position.

Clues to high miles: whatever the milometer may say, here's a few clues to
high miles. Steering wheel: is it shiny or covered? Peel any cover back and
take a look. Gear knob: shouldn't be shiny and worn, or too new. Pedal
a car with low miles shouldn't show much wear. If just the clutch
pedal is worn in particular, it may mean the owner is in the habit of riding the clutch, straining both clutch and gearbox. Rubber worn through in spots is an
indicator of high miles and if they're all new, it should give you pause for
thought. Instrument panel: are the screws which hold it in loose, scratched
or rounded? If so, the panel's been out. Do the numbers on the milometer line
up? An indicator that it may have been wound back. Are the numbers scratched
or painted over? Wear on the driver's seat is also a big clue - it's more
expensive to replace. Is it covered? Are there many chips on the nose of the
car and have there been an excessive number of owners? Of course, any
one of these things could have a rational explanation, but add up the clues.

Doors: check all the handles and locks.

Sunroof: tilt it and/or wind it back. Jump out and examine around the edges or
the sunroof while open. Rust, ripped rubbers or seals could lead to water leaks
and annoying wind noise while driving.

Alarm: if fitted, ask the seller for a demo to see if it works.

In the boot: use your nose as well as your eyes here too. Sniff and look for
signs of water entry. Pull back the boot floor covering to have a look for moisture
or rusty metal underneath. Examine particularly around the spare wheel recess
and the joins between panels to the sides of the boot floor. Push down on the
boot floor - listen for any crunching noises or movement from the edge joins.
Check the spare wheel - is the tyre inflated, what is its condition? Is everything
necessary there to change a wheel - jack, handle (if separate), wheel nut

Next page:
checking the oily bits >>


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