When buying a car, there’s a lot to consider. When buying a used car, there’s even more to consider. It’s obvious that you’ll want to avoid a used car that’s been badly damaged, illegally altered, or that is prone to break downs…but can you know for sure that you’re making the right choice?
Follow these 10 tips to make sure you pick the right second-hand car at the right price.
10. Look for a car that’s around three years old
New cars start losing their value the moment they’re driven off the lot. By the end of the first year, most are down 40 percent in value. That means that the original owner has taken that financial hit and you won’t have to. What’s more, the market for used cars that are three years old is massive. Why? Many cars are bought on finance which, after 36 months, runs out.
- Do your research on car insurance and car tax
Many people mistakenly think that the price of the car itself is the only cost involved in getting on the road. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. A relatively inexpensive second-hand car could incur massive bills over time. For example, sporty cars often come with higher insurance premiums. For car tax, you’ll have to consider its fuel type, engine type and CO2 emissions. Make sure you get quotes before signing anything.
- Review the car’s history
If the owner can’t offer up garage bills, MOT certificates and service records, that should raise alarm bells. If you do have access to this paperwork, look over it carefully. Look for consistent problems and consider, given how old the car is, what maintenance work will be needed soon.
- Look at the mileage
The mileage will give you insights into the value at purchase vs. sale and – perhaps more importantly – the potential costs of servicing and maintenance. Certain car parts need to be serviced or replaced after so many miles and many of these parts come with a hefty price tag. If you notice that a part hasn’t been replaced or serviced at the recommended interval, it’s probably not a good idea to buy.
- Check the exterior and interior
This should go without saying but when we say ‘check’ we mean really look. It’s best to do this during the day when it isn’t raining or foggy. Look at the car from all angles, taking special care to look for dents, mismatched colours and misaligned panels. This would indicate that there has been work done.
While ideally the interior would be spotless, seats and carpets are easy enough to clean or have cleaned.
- Take it for a spin
You should never buy a car before test driving it. Make sure it starts easily and, while driving, make sure it handles well and performs how you would expect. A grinding sound coming from the brakes is a bad sign and a rumbling or smoking engine indicates a serious problem. It’s also a good idea to check that all of the features inside work. Flip on the radio, listen to the speakers, see if the air conditioning cools effectively. Also consider if you feel comfortable driving the car. Does it go faster than you expected? Does the steering wheel pull to one side?
- Make sure the seller has a V5C document
This document shows the registered keeper, not the legal owner. Of course, the registered keeper should be the one selling you the car. If it isn’t, or if the seller isn’t willing to show you the V5C, you should walk away.
- If you think it’s too good to be true, it probably is
Unfortunately, you can encounter a lot of scams when buying a used car. Clocking, cloning and cut-and-shuts are worst case scenarios, but they could still happen. The best way to avoid a scam is by doing research, carefully inspecting the car, and trusting your gut. It’s better to pay more for a car that has all the relevant paperwork than less for a car with none.
- Make sure it ticks all the boxes
What are your essential requirements? Does there need to be room for the whole family? Does it need to fit in a particularly small space? Do you need a large boot? Were you hoping for something eco-friendly? Make sure you get what you came to get and don’t settle on something else for an attractive price or because you feel pressured.
- Get a receipt
Once you’ve made your decision, make sure you and the seller agree exactly what is included in the price and get a receipt that includes the vehicle details, terms of the deal, your name and the seller’s name, and the date.
With that, congratulations on your new (used) car! Lastly, it’s always wise to cover your car in the event of unexpected vehicle failure, and you can do that with an extended warranty from Warranty Direct! Why not get a quote to see how we can help you?
Policies underwritten by Pinnacle Insurance plc. Arranged and administered by Warranty Direct. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority