Top Ten Tips for Buying a Used Car


Are you in the marketplace for buying a second hand motor vehicle? Choosing the right vehicle which is good value for money and will be reliable in the long term can be quite difficult. You can help yourself make the right decision by following some basic guidelines that can help you choose between the bargain cars and the ones that will cause you long term misery. Read our top ten tips for buying a used car guide. 1) Pick a Budget and Stick to ItWhen you are buying a used car it is easy to get carried away when you’re already spending a lot of money- a few hundred pounds more to secure the ‘car of your dreams’ can easily seem reasonable, but could leave you in debt. Remember there are always other expenses that you have to pay for when you buy a car, such as Road Tax and insurance. Before you start looking for a new car decide on a budget and religiously stick to it, that way you can be assured good value for money. 2) View the Car in DaylightWhen you do finally decide to go to look at a car, don’t make the mistake of going to see the car at night. Perhaps you have a full time job and it isn’t possible to leave work to go and view a car in the week and you think that the car in question may be sold by the time the weekend comes around. Although it can be a temptation to save time and ‘jump the queue’ of other potential purchases, going to see a car at night can leave you open for an upset. Basically you will not be able to get a good look at the condition of the car in poor visibility. Instead of being impatient either wait until the weekend or take a day off work and go and see a group of cars to make the most of your time.3) Consider an InspectionLack mechanical knowledge about motor vehicles? For those who don’t know their big end from their fuel injection system perhaps a professional mechanical appraisal may be a sensible option. Although there will be an expense involved with this you will get peace of mind from discovering what if anything is wrong with the vehicle. Also by telling the vendor you are going to get a mechanical appraisal then you will be able to see how they react to this. If they suddenly looked panicked and try to dissuade you then you can presume that there may be something wrong with the car that they are trying to hide. If a mechanical appraisal does highlight problems with a car, this doesn’t mean that you should walk away from the motor vehicle- all cars can develop faults. Instead judge as to how much these issues are likely to cost to repair as this can give you additional bargaining power with the vendor to get a discount. However, if in doubt walk away from the deal, there is always another car out there! 4) Take it For a Test DriveYou’ll definitely need to take any prospect car you are looking to buy for a test drive prior to purchase. If this is an unfamiliar vehicle then you’ll get a sense as to whether you’ll actually enjoy driving the car, whether the performance suits your needs and to whether the actual model is right for you? Are the seats comfortable? This may not make so much difference for a car for vehicle you won’t use much apart from short journeys around town, but if you’re looking for a car to do long motorway journeys in you need to ensure that the ride is comfortable.Even more importantly a test drive gives you the chance to check out some of the fundamentals about the vehicle in question. How are the brakes, do they work well? How does the engine sound, does the car judder when you drive along? Does the gear box change smoothly. Avoid having the radio on when you’re carrying out your test drive as you’ll want to listen out for any erroneous noises coming from the vehicle. 5) Get a HPI CheckYou may find the car of your dreams and on the face of it could look like a fantastic bargain, but you shouldn’t part with your money before you’ve carried out a HPI check on the car. A HPI check can highlight whether the car actually belongs to the person who says it does, whether the car has ever been registered stolen or has been written off in an accident. Also a HPI check will discover if there is outstanding finance on the vehicle, if there is then the car could be legally be taken from you and handed back to the finance company as they legally own it, even if you have parted with your money to buy the car. A HPI check can cost as little as £19.99 and provide you with peace of mind and stop you from getting a nasty surprise in the future. 6) AuctionsUnless you’re confident of your skills when it comes to buying a used car or have mechanical knowledge it is best to avoid going to a car auction or to buy a used car. Although you can pick up a low cost deal on a used car at an auction you do only have a limited amount of time to view individual cars. Also if you bid and win then you are contractually obliged to purchase the vehicle. 7) Do Your HomeworkDon’t go to look at a vehicle without doing some research about the car first. You should learn about the different models available, which ones are more desirable and command more money, you should try to find out what known faults are on the vehicle and get a general understanding about the car in questions. The internet is a great place to start to compile this information, with car clubs and general car sites often giving you really good quality information about individual vehicles. Also explore trade magazines and online sales portals to get an understanding on how much certain models and vehicles go for. You don’t want to pay over the odds for a car just because you’ve not bothered to do any homework. 8) Don’t Buy the First Car You SeeIt can be quite an effort trying to find a car to buy, with the search online often not highlighting any cars close to where you live it can be tempting when you finally go to see a car to buy it just because it seems OK and because you can’t be bothered to go and look at any others. This can prove to be quite a big mistake as you cannot get a feel for the overall quality of the car until you have seen a few of the same model. For instance the interior could look a little ‘scrappy’, but unless you’ve seen a cross section of cars for sale how do you know if this is a one off problem or inherent with all the cars from the range? Check out a few newer and older examples of the model you are interesting in, you can get to see how the car ages over time and whether it holds up well when the additional miles are racked up. 9) Take Someone with You For a Second OpinionIt may be a cliché to go and look at a car ‘mob handed’ and go around the vehicle ‘tyre kicking’ but it is important to get a second opinion from someone you trust. If that second person is a mechanic all the better, but if not get your friend to discuss the car with you and give you an honest appraisal about the car in question. Having more than one person can also be advantageous as unscrupulous sellers may try ‘distraction techniques’ such as keeping you talking and not allowing you a proper look at the car. This is much harder to do when there is more than one person looking over the vehicle. 10) Buy from a Reputable DealerIf you’re really worried about buying a used car you may want to consider buying from a reputable dealer, as these companies generally provide cars which have passed mechanical checks and MOTs. Other dealer facilities often include car loans meaning you can get a better car than you thought you might be able to afford. The newer the car the less likely it is to be affected by mechanic issues and breakdowns which can also go to ease the worries of buying a second hand car.

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