How should I go about buying used cars?

used cars

Replacing your old motor with a different one is exciting. So much so that it’s easy to forget the basics with used cars. If you follow our tips below, you stand a good chance of avoiding buying used cars that either aren’t suitable for your needs or are so rubbish they wouldn’t be suitable for your worst enemy.

Take your time and do your research

There’s an old military saying that time spent on reconnaissance is rarely wasted. The same is true for buying a used car. First of all the basics: look into the make and model that ticks your boxes. Do you want style over practicality, or vice versa? Are you ready to take the plunge with an electric motor, or will it still be petrol or diesel?

Then think about costs. Can you afford to insure it? What’s the annual road tax bill? How about fuel costs? And how do all these compare for all your shortlisted cars? It’s also worth looking into depreciation and how your different choices are affected by it. Lastly, what about reliability?

used cars

Plan it if you can

Of course there’ll be times when we need a car quickly. But if it’s possible, try to plan your purchase so you can see as many used cars as possible. And bearing in mind you’re likely to be spending a lot of money and will have to live with the consequences for a few years, don’t rush into buying the car.

When it’s time to actually go and see cars in the metal, don’t try to squeeze it in while your other half is round the corner buying some trousers for work.

Take a test drive

When you’re planning your new car purchase you need to make time for a test drive. There are a couple of good reasons for this. First it enables you to compare different cars. You’ll be able to see whether the more economical 1.6 engine is poky enough for you or whether you need the 2.0-litre.

It’s also a decent chance to find out if the seats give you back ache or the boot is too small to fit a push chair in. And lastly, test driving a used car will give you some clues as to how it’s been looked after.

Sort out the finance early

If you’re buying the car using finance, you’ll get a better deal if you have this in place before you do the deal on the car. There are two reasons for this. First, when you’re haggling over the price of the car, the dealer won’t be able to tie up the price of the car with the finance. And that will make things a bit more transparent and easier to get a better deal from both.

Second, by using independent brokers rather than the dealer, you’ll be able to compare offers from different lenders. You can then pick the right finance package for your budget at your leisure. And you won’t be pressured into a finance package that isn’t as competitive just because you like a particular car.

used cars

Look further afield

Research shows that used car buyers can get better prices if they look further afield. Consumer protection laws are the same wherever in the country you buy a car. And there are literally millions of used cars available online.

Don’t fall for the flannel

Good salespeople sell cars every day. We do it once every couple of years. If a dealer tells you that all models have the same fault you’ve picked out on the car they’re trying to sell, take it with a pinch of salt – no matter how plausible they make it sound.

Just remember, the 2015 Consumer Rights Act is on our side when it comes to faults with products and getting dealers to fix them.