Buying second hand vehicles is always a bit of. lottery. You never know quite what you are investing in, no matter how mechanically minded you are.

Many potential issues will only show up once you get homer, if you get home!

Stop and think

Faulty brakes are the problem most commonly found during exqpert assessments of used cars for sale, AA Cars’ vehicle inspectors have revealed.

Seven out of 10 used cars assessed their inspectors are found to have at least one fault. To help buyers avoid making a costly mistake, they have listed the problems they come across most frequently.

Brake issues are the most common fault which inspectors uncover, costing £400 on average to fix. This is followed by signs of previous accident damage and corrosion — which can vary in cost depending on how severe it is.

Common faults



Average cost to fix


Brake issues



Signs of previous accident damage/repairs

Dependent on repair(s) needed



Dependent on severity of corrosion


Clutch faults

£600 to £800


Oil leaks to engine and gearbox

Dependent on where leak is found


Timing chain/belt fault noises

£800 to £1,200


Existing body damage

Dependent on repair(s) needed


Diagnostic fault codes

£250 to £600


Professional help?

People considering buying a used car can book a pre-purchase vehicle inspection. These look at all the main areas, but also check for poor maintenance, repairs and assess potential problems. It means you then have a better negotiating position on price and hopefully you won’t get any worrying surprises when you’re in the driving seat.

Most drivers make an effort to check a used car’s condition before they buy it. However, expert knowledge improves the ability to spot potential problems .

While 85% of would-be buyers say they lift up the car’s bonnet, almost half (45%) admit they have no idea what they are looking for.

However, drivers do have a good awareness of what sort of issues tend to arise with used cars. A quarter of drivers (24%) believe the most commonly found problem is with the brakes – which was the number one fault listed by AA Cars’ vehicle inspectors.

Safe and secure

“A car is often the second-biggest purchase people make after their home,” comments Edmund King, AA president.

“Most people wouldn’t dream of buying a house without a survey — yet many car buyers don’t stop to consider the benefits of a pre-purchase vehicle inspection before parting with thousands of pounds.

“Many of the most common problems vehicle inspectors find during assessments are hard for the average person to spot. Even if drivers carry out some checks themselves, such as looking at the bonnet, many do not know what they’re looking for.

King believes the expert knowledge and mechanical skills provide a real security, both in terms of financial investment and safety.

“If a fault goes undetected, drivers could find themselves forking out hundreds of pounds to repair it. With 70% of used cars assessed found to have some kind of issue, drivers who make a purchase without getting an inspection could be taking a big financial risk.

“Vehicle inspections can give drivers valuable peace of mind that a vehicle is in good condition and they won’t be in for any nasty surprises. If a fault is found, this can give the buyer the power to haggle down the price or request a repair before they purchase the car.”