The Essential Guide to Basic Checks When Buying a Used Car in Bournemouth

The Essential Guide to Basic Checks When Buying a Used Car in Bournemouth by Quality Used Motors
The Essential Guide to Basic Checks When Buying a Used Car in Bournemouth by Quality Used Motors

Purchasing a used car in Bournemouth requires a keen eye for detail and an understanding of what constitutes a good buy. Beyond the engine and oil checks, you need to inspect several basic, yet crucial, areas before making your decision. This guide will take you through these essential checks, offering insider knowledge to help you spot potential issues and avoid the tricks some less reputable dealers might use to hide problems.

Tyres, Tread Depth, and Wheels: A Closer Look

When examining tyres and their tread depth on a used car in Bournemouth, incorporating a few expert techniques can provide a deeper insight into the vehicle’s condition and history. Here’s how to elevate your tyre inspection process with insider knowledge, including an essential look at the wheels:

What to Look For:

Tyre Age: Beyond tread depth, check the tyre’s sidewall for the DOT code, which includes the week and year of manufacture. Tyres older than five years can be a safety risk, regardless of tread depth, due to potential rubber degradation.

Sidewall Condition: Inspect the tyre sidewalls for cracks, bulges, or cuts. These defects can lead to slow leaks or sudden blowouts and are not always visible without close inspection.

Matching Tyres: Ensure all tyres, including the spare, are of the same brand and type. Mismatched tyres can affect the car’s handling and indicate piecemeal replacements due to wear or damage.


Pressure Check: Use a tyre pressure gauge to ensure all tyres (including the spare) are inflated to the manufacturer’s recommended levels. Incorrect tyre pressure can affect the vehicle’s handling and fuel efficiency.

Wheel Alignment: During the test drive, pay attention to how the car handles. If it pulls to one side, this could indicate misaligned wheels, often a result of hitting curbs or potholes.

Wheels Inspection:

Wheel Condition: Examine the wheels for any signs of damage, such as cracks, bends, or significant kerb rash. Damage to wheels can affect tyre performance and safety.

Alignment and Suspension: Look closely at the wheel alignment and signs of uneven tyre wear, indicating suspension issues or a history of accidents not disclosed.

Tricks to Watch Out For:

Temporary Inflation: Some sellers might overinflate tyres to hide issues like uneven wear or to improve the vehicle’s handling during a short test drive. Always check the pressure yourself.

Cosmetic Fixes on Wheels: Be wary of freshly painted wheels. While they may look attractive, painting or refurbishing can be used to cover up damage.

Hidden Wheel Damage: If wheel caps or covers are used, remove them to inspect the actual wheel. Sometimes, these covers can conceal damaged or corroded wheels.

Insider Tips:

Carry a Torch: A flashlight can help inspect tyre treads and sidewalls more thoroughly, especially in poorly lit areas.

Consult a Professional: If in doubt, getting the tyres and wheels checked by a professional mechanic or tyre specialist can provide peace of mind. They can spot issues that are not immediately apparent to the untrained eye.

By following these expanded guidelines, you can ensure a comprehensive evaluation of the tyres, tread depth, and wheels, offering a clearer picture of the used car’s condition. This thorough approach helps safeguard against potential safety risks and avoid additional costs after purchase, ensuring your investment in a Bournemouth used car dealer is a sound one.

Used Car Light Inspection: Unveiling the Illuminated Path

Evaluating the lighting system of a used car requires attention to detail and an understanding of potential red flags. While checking that all lights function is fundamental, there’s more to it than meets the eye. Here’s how to incorporate expert insight into your inspection, ensuring a comprehensive review of the vehicle’s lights.

What to Look For:

Brightness and Color Consistency: Headlights and taillights should have uniform brightness and colour. Dim lights or those emitting different colours might indicate ageing bulbs or issues with the electrical system.

Headlight Fogging or Moisture: Check for condensation inside the headlight and taillight units. Moisture can suggest compromised seals, which can lead to bulb failure and reduced visibility.

Operation of All Modes: Test headlights in all modes (low beam, high beam, and fog lights if applicable). This not only checks the bulbs but also verifies the proper function of switches and relays.


Automatic Lights Functionality: If the car is equipped with automatic lights, ensure they activate properly in low-light conditions. This also tests the vehicle’s light sensors.

Brake Light Activation: During a test drive, have a companion verify that all brake lights illuminate promptly when applying the brakes, including any third brake light.

Tricks to Watch Out For:

LEDs vs. Halogen Bulbs: Some sellers might replace original LED lights with cheaper halogen bulbs. While they light up, the downgrade affects performance and aesthetics. Check the vehicle’s specifications to know what it should have.

Hidden Damage: Freshly polished or replaced light covers can hide cracks or damage. Inspect closely for any signs of repair or recent replacement that don’t match the car’s wear level.

Bypassed Wiring: In cases of electrical issues, some sellers might implement quick fixes like wiring lights directly and bypassing faulty fuses or relays. This can be dangerous and lead to electrical fires. Look for any non-factory wiring or electrical tape.

Insider Tips:

Use Reflections: Park the car close to a wall or garage door in a dim environment and activate the lights. The reflection can help assess the beam’s alignment and strength, highlighting any inconsistencies.

Check Indicator Speed: A faster-than-normal blinking rate for the indicators or hazard lights often points to a bulb failure in the system. It’s a quick check that can reveal issues not immediately apparent.

Consult the Manual: If available, consult the vehicle’s manual to understand the full functionality of the lighting system, including any adaptive or cornering light features that might be harder to check.

By going beyond the basics and employing these insider strategies, you’re not just checking boxes but ensuring that the vehicle’s lighting system is fully operational, safe, and up to standard. This level of diligence can reveal hidden issues, prevent future safety hazards, and potentially save you from making a costly mistake when purchasing from a used car dealer.

Expert Insights on Inspecting Windscreen Wipers and Seatbelts

Navigating the inspection of windscreen wipers and seatbelts with an expert eye can uncover potential safety issues and save you from future headaches. Here’s how to delve deeper into these essential components, ensuring they meet safety standards and function as intended.

What to Look For:

– Beyond checking for wear or splitting in the rubber, inspect the wiper blades for any signs of bending or damage to the frame. This can affect the blade’s contact with the windscreen, leading to streaks or missed areas.

– Evaluate the tension of the wiper blades against the windscreen. Blades that don’t snugly fit against the glass might not clear water effectively.


– In addition to using the wipers with the windscreen washer, check for proper distribution of washer fluid. Uneven spraying could indicate clogged nozzles.

– Listen for any unusual sounds when the wipers are in operation, such as squeaking or chattering, which can indicate improper installation or the need for replacement.

Tricks to Watch Out For:

– A temporary fix some sellers might employ is applying substances to the wiper blades to make them temporarily more pliable and less noisy. Inspect the blades for any residues that feel out of place.

– Another trick is adjusting the wiper arm tension to mask poor performance. This can make worn wipers seem effective during a short test but doesn’t last.

Seatbelts: Securing Your Safety

What to Look For:

Inspect the seatbelt webbing closely for any subtle signs of wear, like thinning areas or slight discolouration, which might not be as apparent as cuts or fraying but can equally compromise the belt’s integrity.

– Check the buckle and receiving end for any signs of damage or unusual wear. The mechanism should lock and release smoothly without any sticking.


– Conduct a ‘snap test’ by pulling on each seatbelt quickly and forcefully to mimic the force of a crash. This ensures the automatic locking mechanism engages properly.

– For cars equipped with pre-tensioners, listen for any clicking or unusual noises when the belt is extended and retracted, which could indicate a malfunction.

Tricks to Watch Out For:

– Sellers might use seatbelt covers or padding to hide damage on the webbing. Feel along the entire length for any inconsistencies under such covers.

– In the case of seatbelt replacements, ensure that any new belt is an appropriate and approved type for the vehicle. Non-genuine or inappropriate replacements may offer a lower level of safety.

Implementing Expert Strategies

By applying these detailed inspection strategies, you’re doing more than just scratching the surface; you’re ensuring that crucial safety features like windscreen wipers and seatbelts meet the necessary standards for effective operation. Remember, while cosmetic issues can be overlooked, compromising on safety features should never be an option. Taking the time to thoroughly inspect these elements can make all the difference in securing a safe and reliable vehicle from a Bournemouth used car dealer.

Your Roadmap to a Secure Purchase

While the thrill of acquiring a new vehicle can be exhilarating, ensuring your potential new car in Bournemouth is safe and reliable is paramount. By performing these basic checks, you arm yourself with the knowledge needed to make an informed decision. Remember a reputable used car dealer in Bournemouth will welcome these inspections, as they pride themselves on the quality and safety of their vehicles. Don’t hesitate to conduct these essential checks, and consider a professional inspection for complete peace of mind. Armed with this guide, you’re now better equipped to navigate the used car buying process, ensuring your investment is both safe and sound.