Buying a used car is a great way of cutting the cost of your driving as most new cars lose around 40% of their value in the first year.
But there are risks so it’s important to take your time rather than rush into any deal, and to buy as far as possible with your head rather than your heart.
With so many choices on the car market it can be hard to pick the one that works best for you. There are a number of things to consider: fuel economy, reliability, safety ratings, features you need, how well the car will hold its value and how expensive it will be to maintain it.
It just takes a bit of homework and some patience to locate the right model at a reasonable price. No good comes from rushing into things. Follow these steps and you’re bound to end up with a good experience and an even better vehicle.
1. Shop the less popular brands
Everyone knows the leading brands that command premium second-hand prices. But why surrender to these unkind market forces? There are other, lesser-known competitors that for a variety of reasons didn’t sell well — models that can give you similar quality and features for less dough. Automakers such as Suzuki, Mitsubishi and Kia made some very good models that were undersold and overlooked. Keep an open mind rather than fixate on one model. Knowledgeable bargain hunters familiarize themselves with all of the segment models and are often rewarded with a great vehicle for a considerably lower price than the big-selling brands.
2. Take a close look
Used cars are like snowflakes: no two are exactly the same, so scrutinize each one carefully. Look for paint overspray on door seals, mufflers and wheel-well liners — a sure sign of collision repairs. You may find shattered glass fragments under the seats. A mildew smell indicates a stubborn water leak. Fresh undercoating may be masking recent structural repairs. Lit warning lamps may be a portent of expensive engine repairs. Motor oil that resembles a frothy milkshake often means there’s a blown head gasket or worse. The transmission fluid should be bright red or reddish brown; any darker and there may be problems.
3. Befriend a technician
Settled on the vehicle you want to buy? Have it mechanically inspected by someone you trust. Vehicles that have been repaired after a collision aren’t always easy to spot, which makes a professional inspection on a hoist all the more critical. A good technician can detect creases in the unibody and paint overspray. There are garages that only do vehicle inspections and do not perform repairs (vintage car collectors use them). Many shoppers won’t invest the half-day to take the car for a third-party assessment, which pretty well negates all the careful shopping they’ve done. It’s like dropping the ball at the 10-yard line.
4. Test the seller
Ensure that the seller knows the vehicle and its features well by asking to see its service history and previous MOT certificates – if they don’t seem to know much about the car and its history, it could be a sign the car’s stolen.
If you have doubts then get a vehicle history check to avoid going through a costly process later.
5. Inspect the car and take a test drive
You should arrange to view the car in daylight, preferably when it’s dry – it’s harder to spot damage to the car if it’s wet. It’s a good idea to meet at a private seller’s house so that if something goes wrong after you’ve bought the car you’ll have a record of their address.
You should definitely take the car for a test drive. You’ll need to make sure you’re insured to do this. If you have your own car insurance, check with your insurance company to see if you can drive someone else’s car. If you don’t have insurance, a trader or private seller’s insurance might cover you – you’ll need to ask them.
It’s all basic information really but unfortunately in today’s world you really do need to take extra precautions when buying used cars. Follow these steps to eliminate the risk of being ripped off and ending up with a lemon of a car!
If you need further help and advice then drop a line below or do get in contact – Although I don’t actually sell used cars (only buy) I am always happy to advise.