By Oliver Hall
Secondhand car dealers have been given a rough ride in a report on their practices by the Office of Fair Trading.
The watchdog discovered one in five people who brought a used car from a trader had a problem with the vehicle.
However, following simple tips, like checking the tyres, can help buyers avoid falling victim to some unscrupulous dealers and save them having to fork out for costly replacements and repairs down the road.
The Retail Motor Industry Federation – the trade body for the industry – suggests going through the following inspection check list before buying a second hand vehicle:
* checking the underside and bodywork
* making sure tyres have the correct tread of 1.6mm or more
* ensure paintwork is in good condition
* make sure the locks work
* check all the rubber seals including windscreen wipers and doors (leaks can be expensive to fix)
* on the outside, make sure that no panels are a slightly different shade, or rippled, or uneven, or heavily chipped by stones
* the inside of the car can give clues about how well it has been treated and whether the mileage is accurate, so look at the state of the seatbelts, see whether the carpets are in the condition you would expect, and look at the milometer, dashboard instruments and pedal condition.