Looking for a used car? So is everyone else!

Posted on by Ian of Redbourn Auto Solutions

Looking for a used car?  So is everyone else!
The Impact of Lockdown on travel and the Used Car Market

The rising demand in the used car market has led to supply issues country wide, so how can we be sure that our new purchase is a safe and reliable one?!

Why is demand outstripping supply?
The supply chain of used cars stumbled as new car production halted during lockdown, leaving consumers waiting for their new cars and holding on to their part exchanges.  In an uncertain climate, some also decided to hold on to their cars a little longer or to invest in a used vehicle.

Demand increased as businesses turned to home delivery to keep their companies afloat requiring vans, scooters and small cars.

We were encouraged to avoid public transport and people sought to travel safely by their own means whether for work, school or recreation with an increase in cars per household.  According to McKinsey this is set to stay as, a third of consumers value constant access to a vehicle more than they did prior to the pandemic.

The situation has been compounded by the unfortunate situation for first-time drivers.  Government departments were furloughed or worked from home, creating significant delays in new Driving Licences.  Driving instructors couldn’t work and tests halted.  This has created a 6-month delay in purchasing first cars.

Add to this the MOT 6-month extension and the potential for purchasing a used car significantly reduced.

So, where do I find a safe and reliable car?
With demand at a premium, there has been an increase in value in the second-hand car market.  And where there is demand, there are people wanting to exploit it!  So, buyers really should beware and avoid impulsive purchases.  The old adage of ‘act in haste, repent at leisure’, really does apply here.

Private Sellers
The internet is a great place to start to identify what your budget will realistically achieve.  There are plenty of private sellers on GumTree, Autotrader, FreeAds, etc.  Auction houses are currently operating online, but certainly fun to go to when we are able, and you can pick up a good bargain.  However, buying from a seller really is a case of ‘buyer beware’ with very little recourse should anything go wrong.  At Auction all vehicles are ‘sold as seen’ with no protection at all.  This includes on-line auctions.  If you have a part-exchange, be aware of sites that offer you an online price for your car.  They often bring the value down when they physically see the vehicle and indeed staff are targeted on how much they bring you down by!

Because purchasing privately has limited legal constraints, buyers should:

Check all documentation is in order.  Registered to the seller, details should match the car, current MOT, etc.

MOT History – is the mileage consistent with the age and look of the car.  Does it match the service history?

Bodywork – check for a consistent colour and evenness across the panels, can you see any rust under the footwell mats or welding.

Tyres – check consistent sufficient tread depth.  Remember this would be an additional cost if they need replacing.

Tool Kit – complete and present with spare tyre

Lights – check all lights are fully functioning and ensure there are no warning lights showing on the dashboard

Functional – does everything work?  Washers, locks, windows, air con, radio, etc.


Ask for a test drive and look out for:

Clutch – test biting point is where it should be and not before it is almost fully engaged (a sign of wear and in need of replacement)

Performance – ensure the car doesn’t pull to one side on acceleration and listen out for abnormal sounds and vibrations.  Take the car over 60mph to listen for any further unusual sounds.

Gears – these should feel smooth

Brakes – these need to be responsive and stop without pulling to one side

Steering Wheel – vibrations should not be present.

Whichever car you purchase, do your homework!  Know your budget, including maintenance costs, and be realistic about what you can get.
Used Car or Main Dealers
The safest way to purchase is through a dealer where you enjoy legal protection and peace of mind.  Whether a used car dealer or a main dealer, the legal protection is the same.  They are bound by the Sale of Goods Act to ensure everything they sell is:

Of satisfactory quality – in keeping with its age, make, mileage, etc

Fit for purpose – the vehicle is capable of carrying out all the functions you would expect

Legal to drive – it should meet all legal standards

Matches its description – all components mentioned in the ad should be in good working order.

The dealer is not liable for wear and tear or any misuse.

If buying from a used car dealer you will get a 3-month warranty and if they have their own workshop you can rest assured that the car is in a good safe condition through a pre-delivery inspection, or some will give the car a fresh service which is great for peace of mind.


If you’re a first-time purchaser, take a look at advice on our website to help you with your purchase.  https://redbournautosolutions.co.uk/first-car-buying-guide/


We have become more dependent on our vehicles for a number of reasons, so it has become even more important to buy well and maintain them so that they are ready for when we need them.

Once you’ve bought your car, make sure it is safe and reliable!  We can help by providing a Safety Health Check, or a Service…  or an MOT if it’s needed.

If you want someone else to have the hassle of finding you a car or to help you with advice, ask the experts at Redbourn Auto Solutions and we would be pleased to help.   Give us a call to find out more on 01582 679300.  Happy motoring!

Patrons of TBC St Albans