New vehicles are undoubtedly tempting, but they often come with a hefty price tag and their cost depreciation can also be high. Therefore, it may be a better idea to look for a used car, which usually offers better value for money. 

While a used car is the better value option, you still need to be smart when making your decision, some used cars have hidden problems that can turn out to be a costly mistake for unsuspecting buyers. You want to avoid this kind of situation at all costs, but how? 

These are the top things you should look for when buying a used car in order to avoid a potential disaster:

1 - Vehicle information report 
This report can be ordered online and reveal any title or logbook problems, ownership history and whether the car has ever been registered as stolen. You need to know exactly what this car has been through. You should also ensure that the car doesn’t have any type of finance on it, there should be no pending lease payments or logbook loan on the car, or you could end up with a greater cost than you had imagined for a used vehicle.   

2 - Test drive 
Take the car on a test drive on motorways and local roads. You will get an idea of how the car performs and feels in different situations. This will give you an insight into the condition of the brakes, how the car handles while driving, and if the vehicle is making any unusual sounds. 

3 - Check for leaks 
Park the car in a clean dry area after you go on a test drive and see if it is leaking any fluids. Let it run idly for 30 seconds before turning the engine off and then inspect under the car. Pink fluid usually means a leak in the transmission, green is anti-freeze while black fluid indicates an oil leak, these are all signs of a car needing repair and a closer look. 

4 - Aesthetics 
The value of a car is largely affected by the aesthetics of the car, both inside and out. Check for repairs done to the car’s exterior and inspect the interior upholstery as well. There is no harm in buying a car that has been involved in a minor accident, but you should ensure that any repairs were dealt with by a professional. Take a look at the engine for rust and any leaks, if you don’t know what you are doing, get a professional inspection check.

5 - Car research 
Check out customer and industry reviews on the make and model you are considering to buy. This information is easily available on car sites and forums and gives you an idea of any defects to expect or common problems with the model. Check to also ensure that the car you found is fairly priced.