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Top Tips - Buying a second-hand car online

    1. Decide on a personal budget

Having a budget will help you decide what your options are when buying a car. You need to work out how much you can pay for the car upfront and then how much you can pay monthly afterwards. Don’t forget to take into account the pesky ongoing costs of running a car - they can creep up on you. Also, make sure you take into account any interest rates if you’re buying the car with finance – this will avoid any disappointment later on.

    2. Inspect the car thoroughly

When viewing the car, make sure you inspect both the interior and exterior.  If you go during the day, it’ll be easier to see the bodywork properly and notice any bumps or scratches. You’ll also be able to carry out some simple maintenance checks like the oil level, brake fluid and tyre pressures. If you’re not sure how to run these checks, bring someone with you who knows their way around under the hood. You should also check the electrics of the car, like the interior and exterior lighting along with any other car features; think electric windows, air conditioning or electric seats. While you’re there you can ask the seller about what’s included with the car. Does it still have the vehicle handbook and a spare tyre? Are these included?

    3. Ask the seller for the car's paperwork

Check if the documents they have are genuine and make sure they match the car’s registration number, mileage and registered address. Past MOTs can be a good indicator of how well a car functions and can give an insight into any potential big costs in the near future. Does the car have a valid MOT? Are there any ‘advisories’ listed on its last mot? Running an HPI check on the car may also be useful to check if the car has ever been stolen or written off, things you may want to avoid.

    4. Take the car out for a test drive

When going for a test drive, take time to focus and listen for any unusual sounds from the car. If the seller is really chatty, don’t feel embarrassed to ask them for a few minutes of quiet, so that you can listen to the car properly. Once you’re happy with the sounds of the car, be sure to ask the seller lots of questions, especially if something doesn’t feel right. Is there smoke? Is the car pulling to one side? These signs could indicate mechanical problems, issues with wheel bearings or worn brakes. It’s always good to get the car checked out by a professional for peace of mind, and if you’re feeling unsure, don’t be rushed into the purchase - look elsewhere for your new car.

    5. Don't rush!

There are so many cars for sale, so don’t rush to buy the first one you like. Shop around and compare the prices in different places online, privately and through dealers. Negotiate the price with the seller to get the best deal possible, and don’t commit to paying anything until you know exactly how much it will cost you and what the returns policy is.


Shieldpay protects both buyer and seller in any transaction so that you can deal with anyone, anywhere with total confidence.

How do we do it? We verify the identity of both sides, funds are held securely in the Shieldpay vault and only released when both sides agree they’re happy. If anything doesn’t go to plan, we help out with any disputes!

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