Used car inspections: What’s checked before you hit the road?

Choosing to buy a used car enables you to pick your preferred model from a specific year – a task made easy now that used car listings appear online.

However, we’ve all heard horror stories about used car salesmen looking to cut corners and save themselves money, even at the expense of your safety. So, to give you peace of mind with your purchase, read through our list of the legal requirements for a used car sale, and how you can check that it’s roadworthy.

National standards for used car checks

Purchasing a used car is a legally binding contract between the buyer and seller that must meet specific criteria in order to be validated. Government legislation states that the car must be roadworthy and that the following documents be provided to confirm this status officially:

  • The V5C registration document/logbook
  • MOT certificates
  • Service history (service book and receipts)
  • The car’s handbook
  • Warranty documents

Trading Standards also add that “You are entitled to expect that the vehicle is of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose, and as described… It should still be fit for use on the road and in a condition that reflects its age and price.”

An MOT must be carried out by a registered ‘nominated tester’ and this forms your official certification that the following points have been declared fully functional:


  • Seats and seat belts
  • Warning lamps
  • Switches
  • View to front, wipers and washers
  • Brake controls
  • Steering wheel and column
  • Doors, mirror, horn
  • Speedometer


  • Registration plates
  • Indicators/hazards, headlamps and aim, brake/fog lamps, reflectors
  • Wheels, tyres, shock absorbers
  • Mirrors, wiper blades, fuel tank cap
  • Glazing, doors (including boot and bonnet)
  • Tow-bars
  • General condition of body

Under bonnet

  • Vehicle structure
  • Braking systems
  • Exhaust systems, fuel system
  • Speed limiter
  • Steering/power steering components
  • Suspension components
  • Emissions


Under vehicle

  • Steering
  • Drive shafts
  • Suspension, shock absorbers
  • Wheel bearings
  • Wheels and tyres
  • Brake systems
  • Exhaust system
  • Fuel system and tank
  • Structure

Things to look out for when buying a used car


  • Check the car’s bodywork to make sure that colouration is consistent and that there is no residual paint in the rubber seals, which would indicate a respray. Also, check for rust around the wheel arches and other edges.
  • Use the logbook to confirm the Vehicle Identification Number and review past service history to check for accidents or recurring faults. You can check manually by checking that the joins between panels are regular.
  • Measure the tread depth of all tyres (including the spare) and check the suspension by pressing down on each corner of the car to see whether it settles without bouncing.


  • Confirm that the mileage on the odometer matches the advert and logbook.
  • View the driver’s seat to see whether wear on the seat and steering wheel are consistent with the mileage. Damage to these or the ignition could indicate that the car has been stolen in the past.
  • Try all electronic and mechanical components to ensure that they work. This includes: windows and sunroof, seat controls, boot and bonnet release, seat-belts and airbag covers (both of which would indicate a previous crash if damaged).


  • Check the oil, water, coolant and brake fluid tanks for leaks, fluid quality and fluid levels.
  • Remove any plastic covers from the top of the engine and try to spot rust or signs of deterioration that may indicate a larger issue. Do the same for the battery connectors.

Follow these steps to ensure a hassle-free experience when purchasing a used car.

What’s different about Perrys used car services?

Buying a used car from Perrys gives you all the benefits of a personal sale (such as low costs and the chance to revisit the car before making a final decision), and also the assurances and flexibility that come from one of the country’s longest established providers.

Because Perrys is a registered provider of servicing and MOTs, buying a used car from us you can be assured that the car has had a full history check and is in optimum working order. This also means that we have all the relevant insurance to let you test drive in safety, as well as topping up all levels to ensure that you can drive straight off the lot.

Perrys used car services also features a range of pricing and payment options to help you get the most for your money. Old cars can be given in part exchange for newer models, while there are a host of financial options to help you spread costs over time. Whether you choose lease purchase, hire purchase, PCP finance or a loan (with terms from 12 – 60 months), all of our options are underpinned by the Perrys Price Match Promise, which ensures that if you find a better price elsewhere, then we’ll match it.

If you’re on the lookout for a used car, or simply want more expert information, why not call on your local Perrys dealership today?