If your old car is in need of too many repairs, or you simply need a runabout to get you back on the road, you may be looking to buy a used car. You may have an idea of what you want already, or be open to driving any vehicle. Whichever you are, here’s a few tips on getting the best deal for you out of the used car market. First and foremost, set your budget. Do you know how much you can afford to spend? Are you part-exchanging another vehicle? Are you paying a lump sum, or taking out finance?
- Work out what your current vehicle is worth, and decide if you’re selling or part-exchanging
- Shop around for finance and loan deals if you need one
- Get an idea of any increased insurance costs.
Consider where you wish to purchase your vehicle from – dealership, local garage, private seller? Whatever you decide make sure you use Blue Book to check your cars worth.
- Looking for private sales can be made easier by getting a few local newspapers and magazines and checking the classified ads. Some websites also have classified ad pages.
- Ask friends and family about any dealerships or local garages they would recommend. Word of mouth can be a reliable indicator of where to shop (or indeed where to avoid!).
- Remember hire-purchase is obviously not viable for private transactions, and you may not get a warranty, but you may get a lower-priced car overall.
Get an idea of what you want from your car. Maybe you do have a favoured brand, type of car or even colour, but try to be open to more options:
- Is it a family car, or just for yourself? Is it to be used for commuting, or just pleasure trips?
- What are you willing to spend on tax, insurance and fuel?
- Do you need a saloon or a hatchback? Or four doors instead of two if any passengers have mobility issues?
Check out the car thoroughly – both the car itself and the paperwork. How many months tax and MOT does it have? Is there a service history present? Are there any rust spots on the car?
- Make sure an HP check has been carried out, especially on newer cars. Inspect the V5C certificate closely, and ensure at least one spare key is provided.
- Ensure the age of the car roughly tallies with the mileage on the odometer (approximately 10-12k per year), and check for any suspiciously new parts. Don’t be afraid to query anything – a genuine seller will provide honest answers.
- Have a good look at all bodywork and under the bonnet. Look for flaking paint, rust, corrosion, and evidence of fluid leaks. Also have a look at the condition of the tyres.
- Talk to the seller and get a test drive before you commit to a purchase. Re-check under the bonnet after the test drive to look for any fluid leaks.
Above all, do not be pressured into buying and always walk away if you aren’t happy with any part of the deal or with the car itself.