Buying a used car can be a great way to save some cash – find out how to avoid the pitfalls and get a good deal

Whether you’re buying from a registered dealer or a private seller, there are various precautions you should take when buying a used car.

Our guide reveals the top tips for buying a used car and ensuring you know what you’re getting and what price you should be paying for it.

Not taking the right precautions and doing all of the required preparation and checks could cost you a lot in repairs, time and effort.

The key to finding the best used cars is to do your research and take the steps below, including a vehicle history check.


What to look for when buying a used car?

  1. Vehicle history check

A Car History Report is vital when buying a used car. You can use it to find out if it has any outstanding problems, is it recorded as stolen, or it was previously written-off.

There are many companies offering history checks for varying fees, but not every one will provide all the information you need. One of most credible places to check your vehicle history report in Ghana is HUCA. For as low as GHS 38, you can get the most comprehensive check available. HUCA is available on iOS, Android and Webapp.

Taking home your new car only to find later on that the vehicle was registered stolen and thus needs to be taken away for investigation is a nasty experience for any new vehicle owner to go through.

A used car check is certainly worth the relatively small fee. If you choose to not get one then weigh up the possible cost of any scenarios where the car has issues you did not expect.

  1. Value of the vehicle

To avoid being overcharged, find out the market value of the car you’re looking at by checking price guides and comparing similar used cars for sale online and in car magazines.

The car dealer or the second-hand seller may also try to play down blemishes or anything that may seem to suggest something wrong with the car, so do your research, check the car’s history on HUCA, and get a good view of the car (see next point).

  1. Get a good view

Arrange car viewings for the day. Try not to go when it’s dark or raining as this can hide defects, such as dents and scratches. Make use of a Vehicle History Report from HUCA to help you identify the areas to inspect

Check beneath the car and under the bonnet for rust and any signs that the car’s been in an accident.

  1. Test the seller

Ensure that the seller knows the vehicle and its features well by asking to see its service history. If you have doubts then get a vehicle history check to avoid going through a costly process later.

  1. See the registration document

Ask the seller to show you the car’s registration document, which gives details of the registered keeper and all previous keepers. HUCA gives some information on the vehicle’s registration documents. Compare with documents provided by seller to be sure of the right ownership

  1. Match up the VIN

When viewing a used car, look for its VIN (Vehicle Identification Number), which can usually be found at the base of the windscreen, under the bonnet, and stamped into the framework under the carpet by the driver’s seat. Make sure it matches the VIN found in the registration document.

  1. Locks and windows

See if the locks are different from one another, as changed locks could indicate that the car’s been broken into before.

Keep an eye out for any signs of forced entry and make sure all the windows, including any sunroof, open and close normally.

  1. Look out for clocking

Check that the mileage doesn’t look too low for the age and appearance of the car – if it does, the odometer may have been tampered with, known as ‘clocking’.

A clocked car is one where the miles have been wound back to increase apparent value and asking price. Every 1,000 miles removed increases the value considerably. You can get the last mileage before shipment on HUCA. This will greatly help you to detect Clocking.

  1. Cut-and-shuts

A ‘cut-and-shut’ is where pieces of two or more vehicles, often ones damaged in crashes, are illegally welded together. Pull up carpets and trims for signs of hidden welds and look for poor paintwork or colours that don’t match properly.

A full history check on HUCA before buying a used car will show where to focus your attention when checking for Cut-and-Shuts. You will also be able to know if the car has been stolen or written-off – a cut-and-shut could be both.

  1. Check the tyres

Check the condition of the tyres, noting the tread depth and side-wall damage. Tyres with uneven wear could mean that the wheels aren’t correctly aligned. HUCA will inform you if there are undercarriage problems which may lead to alignment problems

  1. Take a test drive

Before buying a used car, take a test drive. Allow at least half an hour, and drive at different driving speeds noting how the steering, brakes and gears handle. Listen out for any odd noises and check the electrics.