Advice and Tips

What to look for when buying a used car

Advice and Tips // 12 April 2016

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The time has finally come to get yourself a new car and you are already searching for the perfect one. Before you make any decisions though, there are a few things to consider and look for..

You have already made the decision to buy a used car over a brand new car, and that is one of the biggest steps out of the way. Now we have a few tips to help the next stage of your journey run as smoothly as possible.

Look into cheaper cars to run

Buying a car can be a big expense, so picking one that is cheaper to run will really help cut down the cost in the long run. You can easily compare running costs of different car models online by using tools such as What Car?

But if you’re not sure what cars you want to compare just yet, keep in mind these simple rules;

  • Smaller engines can be cheaper to run, engine size is vital for fuel economy
  • Petrol cars are usually cheaper than diesel
  • Manual cars are cheaper than automatics
  • Smaller cars are usually cheaper to insure

The best time to buy a car

As soon as you have decided what car to buy, you need to work out how to get the best deal. Most car dealers have targets to meet, which tend to be quarterly. This means that the end of March, June, September and December are the most common times for dealers to be willing to negotiate.

How much will it cost me?

Once you have decided what car you want it is a good idea to account for the extra upfront costs, and any ongoing costs for the keep of the car.  It is important to get a rough idea of what costs you will need to account for on top of the initial cost of the care.

These costs include;

  • Finance repayments, if you took out finance to pay for your car you should factor the monthly repayments in to your budget
  • Fuel, work out a rough cost of running your car to work out how much money you will need to put back each month
  • MOTs, as soon as your car is 3 years old you will need an MOT every year which currently costs a maximum of £54.85
  • Servicing, you need to get your car serviced typically once a year to ensure it is safe to drive, costs tend to start from around £120

Look at different dealerships

Visit a variety of dealerships  in your area to get a rough idea of the price of your chosen model, if you are prepared to travel a little further it can be worth-while checking out dealerships further away to get a better range of prices.

Make a note of the best price and location and you can go back to your local dealer to see if they can match the best offer, always be prepared to haggle.

Inspect the car

The most obvious, yet important thing to do is check the car. Although the overall appearance might look great this could be misleading. We have a list of the essentials you must check before putting any money down.

  • Overall condition, look over the car for any dents and scratches
  • Check the oil, do this by lifting the dipstick to see if the level is correct
  • Check the engine for leaks, look for signs of oil or water leaks and also look under the car for any signs of leaks
  • Test all gadgets, test the radio and any other gadgets to ensure they are working
  • Lights, do a quick check to see if the lights are working
  • Tyres, check the tyres are properly inflated and are in good condition
  • Is it safe? Do you feel safe in the car, does everything seem up to scratch?

How did the test drive go?

Take the car for a test drive before you buy, a test drive is a great way to see how you like the feel of the car, and don’t be shy to ask for a second test drive if you feel that you need it. After all, it is a big commitment and you want to be sure the car is right for you.

Do they have all the paperwork you need?

You are just about to buy your car, but just before you sign on the dotted line ensure you have ALL of the correct paper work you need. The most important things to check for are;

  • The logbook, this is proof that you are the keeper of the car
  • Servicing booklet, this will let you know when the car was last serviced and if it had any previous repairs
  • The manuals, make sure you have the manuals for the car just in case you need to look anything up