The common mistakes when buying a second-hand car

BUYING a car – new or old – is a big decision, made by thousands of Brits every month.

And those who go down the second-hand route have a lot to bear in mind to ensure they’re snapping up exactly the right motor, at the right price.


Closeup of parked car on a city street side with new winter rubber tires.Credit: Getty

While there are plenty of checklists you can take along with you to the showroom which involve looking at the MOT, service history, bodywork and electrics, there is one thing many forget to check – tyres.

Checking the quality of the rubber fitted to a used motor can have a significant bearing on its value.

And it’s about more than just giving them a good kick as you stroll around it.

Experts from Continental Tyres say it is in fact critical to give them a full inspection.

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Firstly, it’s essential that you know how much tread each has.

This can be done with a 20p coin or by looking at the tread wear indicators which are little notches in the tyre.

It’s also important to examine their make and model, just like you would when considering the make and model of the car itself.

And that’s even more relevant if you’re choosing a premium vehicle.

The good news is that for those in the know, there are some handy symbols on the outside wall of a tyre that tell you if it’s manufacturer-approved.

And while there isn’t one for every brand, tyres are clearly marked at the premium end of the market, like BMWs and Audis.

The markings to look out for include:

  • Audi: A0, A01
  • Alfa Romeo: AR
  • BMW/MINI: *
  • Jaguar: J
  • Mercedes-Benz: MO, MO1
  • Porsche: NO, N1, N2
  • Tesla: TO
  • Volvo: VOL

Pete Robb, marketing director at Continental Tyres, said: “All brand-new cars sold around the world are fitted with tyres that have been approved by their manufacturer.

“Vehicle manufacturers work closely with premium tyre brands like us to develop specific tyres that ensure every car they sell drives as it was designed to – with safety top of the priority list, as well as the need to meet particular requirements in terms of performance on the road and comfort in the cabin.

“If you’re buying a used BMW 1 Series for example, being able to identify whether it’s fitted with approved tyres – that are in good condition – will help you make a confident purchase.

“If a used vehicle has been driven and maintained correctly, there’s no reason why its second or third owner shouldn’t enjoy the same experience at the wheel as whoever bought it new.”

He added: “We’re always going to recommend that for the best experience at the wheel, drivers choose manufacturer-approved tyres.

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“But we do understand that as a vehicle ages, its owner might be interested in saving some money on accessories.

“That should never mean compromising on safety but could mean opting out of certain features that are designed to enhance performance or convenience, and that come at a premium.”

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