Inspect a car like an expert

Boost your negotiation power, by looking out for anything beyond the norm.

Richard Evans, Head of Technical Services at, has 31 years' experience as a mechanic. He is currently responsible for training employees across the UK on all aspects of car maintenance and appraisal.


External Inspection

Stand Well Back

Stand back from the car (approx. 2 metres) and ask yourself: do the colours match on every panel? If not, it could be an indication that the car has recently had major work carried out.


Take a good look at the tread. Anything less than a depth of 3mm and you’ll have to change them within a few months. Take the price of new tyres into consideration when forming your offer.

Up Close & Personal

If you’ve got your suspicions, take a closer look. Many vehicles have bolts holding the panels in place. If the panels have been changed the paint around the bolts will be chipped due to a spanner or socket wrench.


Previous owners may have changed the car, altering it in some way from the original, standard manufacturer’s fit. Look out for alloy wheels, exhausts, suspension, air filters. Think what kind of owner may have made these changes and how they might have driven the car as a result, as it could knock value off the car and make it more expensive to insure in the long term.

Inside the Car


Make sure no lights are illuminated when you run the engine. Especially engine management, anti-lock brake and airbag lights as they point to problems that are very expensive to fix.

Integrated sat nav

Make sure that a disc is there. If not, it's useless and a replacement is costly.

Air conditioning

Turn on and test it to avoid an uncomfortable or costly summer!


Lift up any mats in the car, look out for any rips, tears and burns or even holes from high heels.

Service History

Double-check the car’s service history. Call the garage that carried out the most recent service to make sure everything is as it appears. Also, to check that the car is displaying its true mileage, enter the registration number (found on the V5 Registration Document) at

And Finally...

Once you have fully inspected your car, deduct any damage from the sticker price. Remember this is just the starting price and there is always room to negotiate. Happy negotiating!

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