Help & Advice

In this section, we will provide some practical and useful advice for taking care of your vehicle, as well as information on Motorepair services. We are also only a phone call away and happy to help on 01244 520 017.

Advice for buying a used car

If you are thinking about purchasing a used car, you know how confusing it can be. There are so many things to consider that it can be a daunting experience. This is even more true if you are considering buying a car for the first time. There are many things to look for when purchasing a used car, but one important factor is to give the car a physical check before making your final decision. Here, then, are a few general pointers on how to physically check out a used car before you buy it.

Documentation
  • Make sure the seller can provide the V5C registration document, so you’ll be able to tax the car.
  • If the seller is not the same as the registered owner, don’t be afraid to question why they’re the one selling it.
  • Make sure the registration document isn’t a forgery (Does it have a watermark? Are there any spelling mistakes?)
  • Make sure the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), number plate, engine number and vehicle colour match the V5C.
  • Don’t forget to check the VIN numbers etched on glass, lights and the VIN plate.
  • Check for scratches on glass around these etched on marks.
  • If the vehicle is at least three years old, check for a current/recent MOT certificate.
Mileage
  • Check that the mileage on the clock is consistent with the vehicle’s age and appearance.
  • Look for any signs that the mileage on the clock may have been tampered with, i.e. loose/worn screws.
  • Check the mileage recorded on service documents, i.e. MOT certificates.
  • Check the vehicle’s MOT status and history. This can be done online or by calling VOSA’s MOT status line on 0300 790 6802.
Damage Checks
  • Check for any signs of inconsistencies that could be a sign of extensive repairs.
  • Check the paint finish – Is it even across the car? Are there any traces of remnant paint on window seals/door handles?
  • Look under interior carpets and other hidden areas to make sure the car’s original colour is the same as the exterior.
  • Check for any unusual-looking welding under the bonnet or in the boot.
Safety
  • Make sure tyres are in good condition with at least 3mm of tread. (Tyres with less than 3mm of tread will need to be replaced.)
  • Check that the spare wheel is present and in good condition.
  • Check for tyre inflator or sealant kit, along with jack and other emergency tools. Are they also in good working condition?
  • Ensure all seatbelts work properly. Pay careful attention to cuts or fraying in the material that could affect how they work.
  • Check that any fitted airbags are present and in good condition. Warning lights should also be operational.
  • Make sure all lights, windscreen wipers and washers work correctly.
Test Drive
  • Check that all warning lights operate correctly. They should usually all light up for a moment on engine ignition.
  • When braking, check for any anomalies – Does the car brake evenly or pull to one side? Is braking slower than it should be? Are there any unusual noises when braking?
  • Ensure the handbrake works effectively.
  • Watch out for any steering vibration or veering to one side.
  • If ABS is fitted, make sure the warning light disappears after engine ignition. If it stays present, there may be a fault with the braking system.
Engine
  • Keep an ear out for any abnormal noises when the engine is started up.
  • Make sure dashboard warning lights go off after ignition. If any stay on, there may be faults.
  • Check for any signs of excessive exhaust emissions. (Blue smoke can indicate oil burning. Black smoke from a diesel engine indicates a serious problem.)
  • Make sure the clutch operates normally. Noises when pressing the pedal, or a high bite point could mean repairs will be required soon.
  • Look for a recent emissions test (either alone or as part of an MOT) to check that the catalytic converter is in a good, working condition.
  • Check for any sludge on the underside of the oil filler cap, which could indicate poor servicing.
  • Check the oil level is correct, and hasn’t been neglected or over-filled.
  • Check that the cam belt has been replaced according to the servicing schedule.
Locks, windows and general controls
  • Make sure all locks, including central locking and remote/wireless controls, work correctly.
  • Make sure all windows, including sunroof, open and close correctly, especially if controlled electronically.
  • Check for any noticeable signs of forced entry, damaged or replaced locks.
  • Ensure you have the correct keys. You can check the car’s handbook to see which keys should match the car.
  • Check that locking wheel nuts are fitted correctly, and that the special adapter for these fits the actual nuts and it is in good working condition.
  • Make sure all minor controls work correctly – heating, air-conditioning, ventilation, internal lights, radio/CD system, on-board navigation, etc.

The link below has a good guide for what to look for:

Used Car Advice

Oil Information

Regular oil changes keep engines running smooth and help prevent issues down the road, and many drivers rely on oil changes with conventional motor oil to keep their vehicles in top shape.

Conventional motor oil is standard for many vehicles. Conventional oils are improved with chemical additives to help ensure they meet the requirements of vehicle manufacturers. This includes helping to keep internal engine surfaces clean, protecting against overheating, helping provide resistance to breakdowns, and providing the viscosity your vehicle needs (viscosity is the technical term for how thick and fluid the oil is).

Who should use conventional motor oils? Consult your owner’s manual for the answer. Conventional motor oil will meet the performance requirements of most vehicles.  They can be found in a wide range of viscosity grades, and Motorepair technicians are happy to explain which one is right for your vehicle. It’s good for drivers with routine driving habits, such as using their ride for light commutes and errands. Regular oil changes will help you rest assured you can get where you need to go.

How often should you change your motor oil? Some manufacturers recommend oil changes at specific intervals. Some vehicles are equipped with onboard monitoring systems that indicate on the dashboard when an oil change is necessary. Keep in mind that when manufacturers recommend a set mileage interval, like 5,000 miles, it’s based on the anticipated rigors of “normal driving.” If you drive in more severe conditions — temperature extremes, lots of stop and go — manufacturers generally recommend that you replace your oil more often.

When you should consider synthetic motor oil. While conventional oils are fine for many vehicles, more and more manufacturers are requiring the use of synthetic motor oils. Always use synthetic motor oil if your vehicle requires it. Even if your vehicle doesn’t require synthetic or synthetic blend motor oil (a mixture of conventional and synthetic motor oils), keep in mind that both generally provide better protection under extreme conditions than conventional oils can. If you want to keep your vehicle in top condition, consider upgrading to synthetic motor oil.