The Ultimate Checklist To Buying a Used Car

As a trusted family-owned dealership with over 50 years of experience in the automotive industry, it’s safe to say we know a thing or two about cars. Buying a used car can be a smart and cost-effective decision, but it requires careful consideration to ensure you're making a wise investment. Whether you're a seasoned car buyer or navigating the used car market for the first time, our ultimate checklist for buying a used car is here to guide you through the process seamlessly.

Here’s everything you need to know about buying a used car:

Establish Your Budget

Begin by determining a realistic budget for your used car purchase. Consider not only the upfront cost but also potential expenses for repairs, maintenance, and insurance. Knowing your financial limits will guide your choices and prevent unnecessary strain on your wallet.

Research Makes and Models

Dive into the world of used cars by researching different makes and models that match your needs. Consider factors such as fuel efficiency, safety features, reliability ratings, and the cost of maintenance. Doing this groundwork will help narrow down your choices so you can focus only on vehicles that meet your needs.

There are plenty of reliable and established review sites online that can give you an indication of how well your preferred make and model will perform in key areas, so spend some time browsing these reviews to help you make an informed choice.

Set Your Priorities

Identify your non-negotiables in a used car. Whether it's safety features, low mileage, boot space or any specific options, having a clear set of priorities will streamline your search and guide you towards vehicles that align with your needs.

Where to Look

Explore various sources for used cars, including certified pre-owned programs at dealerships and private sellers. Online platforms such as classified ads, auction sites, and dedicated used car websites provide a vast array of options. Cast a wide net to increase your chances of finding the right car.
At Colin Appleyard, we’re proud to be known as one of the leading sources of used cars in the UK, take a look at our incredible and affordable Used car range.

Check Vehicle History

Ask for a detailed vehicle history report for any used car you're considering. This report provides a comprehensive overview of the car's past, including accident history, title issues, and speed readings. Scrutinising this information is crucial for understanding the vehicle's condition and potential future problems.

Inspect The Car Exterior

​Conduct a meticulous visual inspection of the car's exterior. Look for signs of damage, rust, or inconsistencies in the paint. Ensure that the body panels align correctly, and there are no visible dents or scratches. A thorough exterior examination can reveal a lot about the car's overall maintenance - make sure you ask about any concerns you have.

Examine The Interior

​Move inside the car and inspect the interior for signs of wear and tear. Pay attention to the condition of the seats, dashboard, and carpets. Test all features, including the air conditioning, radio, and power windows. A well-maintained interior is indicative of the care the vehicle has received (and therefore how long it will likely last you!).

Do An Under the Hood Inspection

​Pop the hood up and take a closer look at the engine. Inspect for any signs of leaks, rust, or unusual smells. Check fluid levels, including oil and coolant, and examine the condition of belts and hoses. A clean and well-maintained engine is a positive indicator of the car's overall health

Take A Test Drive

​Time to take it for a spin! Schedule a comprehensive test drive to evaluate the car's performance. Pay attention to how well it handles, listen for unusual noises, and test the brakes and suspension. Use the opportunity to assess the overall driving experience and ensure it aligns with your expectations.

Get A Professional Inspection

​Consider taking the car to a trusted mechanic for a professional inspection. A trained eye can uncover potential issues that might not be apparent during a standard test drive. This extra step can provide peace of mind and potentially save you from unforeseen expenses down the road.

Negotiate Price and Financing

Armed with knowledge about the car's condition and value, be prepared to negotiate the price with the seller. Additionally, explore financing options to secure favourable terms for your used car loan. A well-negotiated deal can significantly impact the overall cost of your purchase.

If you’re buying from Colin Appleyard, we offer our popular Price Promise Guarantee, so that you can be sure you’re getting the best value on your used car.

Review Paperwork

Before finalising the deal, carefully review all paperwork associated with the used car. This includes the title, service records, and any existing warranties. Ensure that all documents are in order and that there are no surprises lurking in the fine print. Clear and transparent paperwork is key to a smooth and worry-free transaction.

Selling Your Old Car? Use a Valuation Tool - It's easy as 1, 2, 3

If you're considering selling your current vehicle as part of the used car buying process using a valuation tool like Colin Appleyard’s Car Valuation tool can be extremely beneficial when selling your old car. By leveraging this user-friendly online tool, This user-friendly online tool provides an instant and accurate valuation based on the information you provide, simplifying the selling process without any hidden fees.

Enter your registration to return details of your vehicle. Check it's correct & then enter it's current mileage.

We just need a few details about you to allow us to process & send you your valuation.

We'll give you a valuation based on the information you provide. This will be subject to inspection & our usual T&Cs.

Your Own Colin Appleyard Account

Did you know you can even create your own account?

Make life easier by being able to access your saved searches, vehicles & applications through our secure 'my account' area:

• Save & compare vehicles, quotes and purchase options
• Store your part exchange details
• Save your finance application progress
• Submit your application or payment from anywhere


Find Your Ideal Used Car Today

Remember, patience and thoroughness are your allies in the quest for the perfect used car. By following this comprehensive checklist, you empower yourself to make an educated decision when purchasing a used car.

The meticulous research, inspections, and negotiations will not only contribute to a smoother buying experience but also ensure that your investment aligns with your expectations and stands the test of time.

Why not browse Colin Appleyard’s extensive collection of Used cars today, with makes and models to suit all needs and budgets.

You can apply for finance or reserve a car for as little as £99 (fully refundable)!

At Colin Appleyard, you're not just buying a car; you're joining our family of satisfied customers who trust us for quality, reliability, and exceptional service.