Comparing used cars – what should you look for?

What you need to consider when look at which used car to buy

When you’re trying to decide which car to buy, there will be certain things on your list. These are likely to be the fun things – Bluetooth, USB ports, air conditioning. But there are other, more sensible factors that you should take into account. Let’s run through them briefly.


Although we’d all like to think we’ll never be in an accident, it’s really important to know that the car you go for has comprehensive safety features. The introduction of the Euro NCAP rating has made manufacturers more competitive when it comes to safety, which is great for buyers. It means that even with cars that are a few years old, measures such as ESP, additional air bags and tyre pressure monitoring are in place.

If you’re a parent your requirements may differ slightly from, say, a first-time buyer. You may want to check that ISOFIX child seat anchor points are in place or an emergency braking system for added peace of mind.


Car performance comparisons are an important part of choosing your vehicle. Even if you’re fairly easy-going about the handling, ride comfort and refinement, you’ll want something that can cope with the kind of driving you’ll be doing. For this reason, it’s good to test drive your shortlisted cars and get a feel for the power in their engines.

A car with a 1.2 litre engine could be great for getting around town and provide decent fuel economy, but may struggle on the motorway or when faced with steeper hills. Conversely, a vehicle with a 2.2 litre engine might accelerate beautifully but you’ll get fewer miles to the gallon and road tax will be relatively high.

Front, rear or all wheel drive

Where power goes to in a car affects its grip, handling and other aspects. Front wheel drive cars benefit from good traction and their lighter drive train often results in better fuel economy.

Rear wheel drive cars have a sportier feel, with nippy acceleration and, in some cases, improved handling. Some, however, handle less well at high speeds.

All wheel drive models receive power to all four wheels, making them easier to drive in inclement weather and on rougher roads. They can be heavy on the fuel consumption though, so consider the running costs before buying one.


When you compare used cars, you’ll need to look at how reliable your shortlisted options are. An older vehicle may be less expensive right now, but if it is likely to cost you more in the long run due to maintenance and repairs, you will want to consider a later model. It’s also a good idea to check professional reviews to get an idea of the manufacturer’s reputation for reliability, and user reviews to inform yourself of any issues other drivers have encountered.


Different manufacturers offer different warranties with their vehicles. Some last three years, some five, some seven. The quality and length of the warranty will determine how much you have to pay out should a repair be needed. Ask the dealer if the car is covered and what is included.

Used cars in Kent, Essex and Bedford

With a wide range of used cars in our MaidstoneandHarlow dealerships, Carwise has plenty of vehicles of varying makes and models for you to compare and test drive. Contact us today for details.