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How to Spot a Reliable Car: 3 Top Tips for Buying in Confidence

ByDave Stopher

Jun 25, 2024

How to Spot a Reliable Car: 3 Top Tips for Buying in Confidence

So, you’re on the hunt for a used car! It’s an exciting time, but it might also feel a little bit daunting if you’re new to the process. With so many options out there, how do you know which car you can trust and which could leave you stranded on the side of the road? 

Luckily, there are plenty of ways to boost your chances of finding a reliable motor that suits your style. We’ve outlined some top tips to help you spot a used car that won’t let you down.

  • Do your research: Know your makes and models

You won’t find reliability in every car. Only a few manufacturers are renowned for producing vehicles that last for hundreds of thousands of miles with minimal trouble. 

If you’re just starting your car search, resources like consumer reports and online car forums make great starting points. Try to spot brands with consistently high reliability ratings across their lineup. For example, Toyotas and Hondas are known for their dependable engines and long lifespans. 

Once you’ve curated a shortlist of reliable brands, delve deeper into specific models that fit your needs and budget. Perhaps you’re looking for a spacious family car like a used Peugeot 3008, or maybe a nippy hatchback for solo commutes. Research the most frequently reported issues with those specific models and years to avoid any nasty surprises.

  • Check the car’s history: Look for a clean past 

You might need to pay a little bit extra for a detailed report on your car’s history, but this will be more than worthwhile for your peace of mind. 

A car’s history report helps you to ensure that the car doesn’t come with any adverse credit – and could also reveal whether it’s suffered any major structural damage in the past. This report will also reveal information like repairs and ownership changes

A clean history report is a good sign, but remember, it doesn’t guarantee future reliability. It’s still important to get the car checked over by a mechanic you trust. They’ll be able to identify any potential problems, assess the car’s overall condition, and give you a quote for any necessary repairs.

  • Trust your gut: Spot any warning signs

Sometimes, a red flag can be something as seemingly minor as a dent in the wheel arch.  

During your test drive, pay close attention to how the car handles. Are there any strange noises, vibrations, or pulling to one side?  Does the engine sound rough or hesitate when accelerating?  Booking an extended test drive could help you answer these all-important questions.

Look out for any cosmetic issues that might indicate a more serious problem lurking beneath the surface. If something feels off, it probably is. Don’t be afraid to walk away from a car that doesn’t feel quite right – trust your instincts!

Getting ready to negotiate

Once you’ve found a car that ticks all your boxes, it’s time to talk about the price. 

Make sure to research the typical market value for the car you’re interested in based on its age, mileage, and condition. When you’re armed with this knowledge, negotiating with the seller feels easier. Don’t be afraid to haggle, especially if the car needs some repairs.

By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to finding a reliable used car that will see you through many miles. Remember, being organised and doing your research can save you a lot of time, money, and hassle in the long run. Happy car hunting!