Whether you’re buying a used car at a dealership or through a private sale, it’s absolutely imperative that you give it a thorough check to make sure you don’t end up with a lemon.

Buying a safe and roadworthy car that is well held together will save you a lot of hassle and may help keep your car insurance premium down in future.

A proper inspection by a mechanic is essential before committing to a purchase, but here are five easy things you can keep an eye out for to eliminate any dodgy vehicles beforehand.

1. Documents

There is a lot of paperwork behind every car, and make sure things such as the warrant of fitness and service and ownership histories are all in order.

If you buy a vehicle that turns out to be stolen or has finance owing, you could face losing the car without any compensation.

2. Bodywork

Watch out for rust and dents around the exterior of the vehicle, especially in crucial structural point such as the joints and hinges.

A fresh paint job could also be an indicator that the previous owner is trying to hide something. Look for warning signs such as areas of the car that are a different shade to the rest of the body.

3. Tyres

Check all four tyres to make sure they have enough tread (1.5 mm is the legal minimum) and that they are worn evenly – uneven wear is usually a sign of poor driving and maintenance.

4. Engine

Check the engine oil using the dipstick, making sure it’s at the correct level and isn’t thick and sludgy. Rust, corrosion or leaking in any part of the engine should immediately bring up red flags.

5. Test drive

Once you’ve decided the car looks nice and tidy, take it for a drive yourself to see how it handles.
Test out everything from the brakes to the wipers and dashboard controls, watching out for potential issues such as wobbly steering and unusual noises or odours.