23 Used Car Buying Tips
Buying a used car is cheaper than buying new, you have lots of choices, and used cars are becoming increasingly reliable. In fact, you even have lots of used car options that come with a warranty – sometimes the manufacturer’s original warranty. To help you make the right choice, here are 23 used car buying tips – plus a bonus.
- Buy an approved used car. Some of the problems and difficulties people face when buying a used car are avoided when you buy an approved used car from an authorised dealer. This is because the dealer and the car have to meet strict quality standards. You will also typically get a guarantee.
- In general, buying from a reputable dealer gives you more protection as a buyer.
- Work out your budget and stick to it.
- Consider the full cost of owning the car. This includes the initial purchase price but it also includes fuel costs, maintenance costs, and depreciation.
- Following on from the last point, considering sticking with car brands and models that hold their value. When you do you will get more for it when it comes time to sell.
- Think of your needs and the type of car you want to buy. This includes the size of the car, style of the car, and size of the engine.
- Consider moving to a premium model car. Your budget will stretch further when buying a used car, so you might be able to go for something with a better build quality, nicer design, or more modern features.
Once You’ve Found Something That Might Work
- Beware of deals that sound too good to be true. They usually are and you will probably end up out of pocket.
- If buying from a private seller, meet them at their home. Never arrange to meet in a supermarket carpark or other non-traceable location.
- Buying from a dealer is one of the safest ways to buy a used car but be wary of dealers masquerading as private sellers. If someone is pretending not to be a dealer there may be something dodgy going on. One way of spotting this situation is to ask about “the car” when you call, without giving any specifics. If the person has to ask which car you’re talking about, they might be a dealer.
- Get the car checked to make sure it is not stolen, is still under finance, or has been previously written off. Checks are inexpensive and can quickly be done online.
- Try to view the car when it is dry as water can hide scratches and small dents.
- In addition, try to view the car in the daylight.
Viewing the Car
- Bring someone with you when you go to view the car, ideally someone who knows about cars.
- Check the car’s service history. The best-case scenario is when the service history includes receipts so you can see it actually took place. If you have any doubts, you can call the garage that did the work to double check.
- Look for sections of bodywork that are a different colour or are duller. This could indicate a low-quality repair.
- Check the parts inside the car that suffer the most wear-and-tear. This includes the driver’s seat, gear stick, pedals, and steering wheel. Does the wear on these items match the mileage and age of the car?
- Check all the cars functions and features include lights, radio, touch screen, satellite navigation, climate control, etc. Make sure they all work.
- On the test drive, take the car on different types of roads – high-speed carriageways, low-speed roads, roads with speed bumps, etc.
- Look for uneven tyrewear as this can indicate a bigger problem.
Other Things to Check
- Make sure the car has a Vehicle Licensing Certificate, an NCT certificate (if applicable), vehicle handbook, and spare tyre and tools (if applicable).
- Make sure there are two sets of keys as replacement keys are expensive.
- Make sure you get the locking nuts for alloy wheels and the security code for the radio.
Finally, if you feel under pressure to buy the car, walk away. Never allow yourself to be pushed into making a decision.