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8 things you need to look out for when buying a secondhand car

We spoke to Shane O’Donoghue for some expert tips when buying a new-to-you car.

ARE YOU THINKING about getting a new(ish) car? Whether it’s your first car ever or you’re trading in or up, buying a car is a big spend and worth taking time over.

We spoke to Shane O’Donoghue, editor of CompleteCar.ie, for his tips on what to look out for when you’re taking a secondhand car out for a spin.

Start your engines.

1. Be careful when you test drive

shutterstock_323631029 Shutterstock / pema Shutterstock / pema / pema

O’Donoghue said that even the time you see a car at can make a difference:

You shouldn’t test drive a car at night or in the rain. The reason being that you won’t spot something that’s wrong with the car visually. Even a wet car can disguise blemishes on the paintwork and damage.

He continued: “Try and take it on as long a test drive as they’ll let you. Cover the full breadth of driving conditions you can, even if only for a minute or two.”

2. Start off cold

shutterstock_270121925 Shutterstock / Art_Photo Shutterstock / Art_Photo / Art_Photo

If at all possible, test drive the car when the engine is cold:

Ideally you should drive the car when it’s cold, because a car won’t run so well if they have an issue. And if the car is warm it can disguise that.

3. Look out for the unusual

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O’Donoghue said that the ordinary ear probably wouldn’t be able to pick up on strange noises with any real certainty but that there are things to be aware of:

Look for anything out of the ordinary. If there are any strange noises, if the car is pulling to one side, if there are smells coming from it, water dripping from it, smoke from the exhaust is very white or black or blue – these all point toward issues in the car.

4. Check out the bodywork

shutterstock_228852901 Shutterstock / Trybex Shutterstock / Trybex / Trybex

While rust isn’t always a problem, it depends where the rust is. So, rust around a scrape on the car is normal (although not ideal), but rust around a wheel base is more problematic.  It could be something that might make the car fail the NCT, or a sign of a bigger problem, like structural rust. Bear in mind that how much you’re spending on the car will give some indication as to what you can expect from it:

It depends massively on how much you’re spending. For €500 or €1000 you can’t expect it to be free of dents or scrapes. If you’re buying a €20,000 BMW you can expect that to be perfect.

5. Test everything

shutterstock_484427812 Shutterstock / kittipong lukkhum Shutterstock / kittipong lukkhum / kittipong lukkhum

It’s important to check out every little last thing while you have the opportunity. You don’t want to find out after the fact that the rear electric window doesn’t work.

Test every little switch – lights, heating, air-con, heated seats, windows, stereos. That can be done while you’re not driving.

6. Test drive multiple cars of your desired make and model

shutterstock_394502371 Shutterstock / Lucky Studio Shutterstock / Lucky Studio / Lucky Studio

If you have your heart set on a particular car some good advice is to test drive two or three of the same make and model, just so you can get a sense of how the car drives. When you do find your perfect car and are test driving it, you’ll know whether it drives well or not as you’ll be familiar with it.

7. Look under the hood

shutterstock_281392622 Shutterstock / Freedom_Studio Shutterstock / Freedom_Studio / Freedom_Studio

Even someone who doesn’t know anything about cars can pop the bonnet and have a root around. You can check the oil level – if that isn’t at the proper level it might suggest that the car hasn’t been properly maintained in other areas. Look out for wet oil or water in the bonnet, or oil or water under the car. These could all be potential problems.

8. Be safe

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Of course, if you’re going to test drive a car, make sure you do it as safely as possible, taking as many precautions as possible. O’Donoghue said:

Ideally go with somebody and don’t bring a wad of cash with you.

Final thoughts

Remember that even if you have your heart set on a particular car, if it isn’t up to scratch, there will be other cars out there that are just as good or better. Promise.

Don’t think this is the only car for you. There will be other cars out there.

Your dream car could be just around the corner. With KBC, you can get the guaranteed lowest market rate on car loans over €10,000 at 6.30%APR* with a KBC Current Account. Offer is available until 15th December 2016. Find out more here.

Information is correct as at 19th October 2016. *Offer available until 15th December 2016. See bonkers.ie for verification. Market refers to the banking market only. Lending criteria, underwriting, terms and conditions apply. Applications must be received by KBC by the 15th December 2016. Offer rate of 6.30% APR (6.13% Fixed) on loans over €10,000. Loan Discount offer is available with respect to new Personal Loan applications only and is subject to availability. To avail of the optional discounted rate, you must repay the loan from your KBC current account by direct debit. The discounted rate is a discount on the standard personal loan rate which equates to a 1% discount on the Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”), which may vary. Handy representative example: €10,000 fixed rate loan over 5 years (60 months). Monthly repayments of €193.93. Rate of interest 6.13% p.a. fixed. Representative Annual Percentage Rate (APR) 6.30%. Total cost of credit would be €1,635.98. Total amount repayable would be €11,635.98. KBC Bank Ireland plc is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.

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