Buying a second, third, or fourth-hand car can be a daunting experience. Whether you’re buying privately, online or through a reputable dealership, there’s always some worry about risks. You’re most likely forking out a good chunk of cash and you want as much reassurance as you can get that your new wheels are reliable and affordable.
Having said that, it’s also very exciting! You’re not so much buying a used car as getting a car that is new to you! Buying a second-hand car in the UK and Northern Ireland is a great way to save money as you don’t have to worry about the high depreciation rate of a new car. Driving is such a pleasure when you’ve got peace of mind and everything feels free and easy.
If you do research before you purchase, you’ll soon find out what to look for and what questions to ask when buying a used car. That being said, check out our six-point guide to buying a used car:
1. Buying online vs offline
That 20-year-old Corsa that’s been gathering dust in your uncle’s garage isn’t your only option! You need to know you can get to work on time and not have to spend too much time under the bonnet.
So, the most important thing about looking for a used car is lots of searching!It’s a good idea to search for deals online, as well as offline. Many private sellers tend to sell online while private dealerships or garages may stick to offline sales.
Offline, the car buying experience is often the best for getting a thorough inspection of your options and making comparisons, but a trip to the forecourt or showroom is no longer an essential part of buying a car.
Online, traders have really upped their game – especially in light of the pandemic – using technology to give you a virtual walkaround for example. If you’re still skeptical, consider this: online used car companies like Cinch and Cazoo can offer better prices as they don’t have the overheads of bricks and mortar dealerships.
Whichever route you decide to go down, there’s one thing you must do: check out trader’s reviews. You’re looking for one that has a good reputation and whose cars have been inspected by an independent engineer or motor organisation.
P.s Don't forget to check your new car insurance group, if you're moving from a Renault Clio (Group 7) to an Audi A1 (Group 14)...you might be in for a surprise on your insurance.
2. Check the mileage
“What is good mileage for a used car?” - This is the most common question people ask when it comes to buying a used car in the UK and Northern Ireland.
The average mileage of a vehicle per year is between 10,000 to 12,000 miles. So, if you’re looking at buying a five-year-old car, the total mileage on the odometer should read approximately 50,000 to 60,000 miles.
High mileage cars aren’t always a bad thing. Bear in mind that you’ll have to ensure all parts are in working order and won’t have to be replaced anytime soon before you purchase.
3. You’re allowed to haggle
And you’re allowed to haggle hard! Haggling isn’t just for car boot sales. It’s also very common in car sales, so don’t accept the traders first price but also be willing to take no for an answer.
Trader’s will expect you to haggle to a certain extent. And they’ll have lots of experience at it. If you’re not so confident, bring along a friend or relative who knows how to barter and won’t squirm under salesman’s techniques.
Negotiating prices can often be intimidating so here are some tips on how to haggle on a used car:
- Ask open-ended questions rather than ones that yield a yes/no answer.
- Know when to walk away.
- Be confident but not arrogant. The best way to ensure you’re convincing is to have the market and prices researched in advance. It’s also important to be friendly. No one wants to make a deal with someone who’s rude.
- When you’re buying from a dealer, don’t let them know how much you’re willing to pay. It’s a good plan to have a maximum price in mind but don’t give it away.
Remember: you can simply stop the deal if you feel you’re being pressured into paying too much or buying extra features.
It’s always worth remembering your goal: a few hundred quid saved is money in your pocket!
4. Things to check
Just like mileage, many people wonder about what to look for when buying a used car. The list can be never-ending but here are the most important things to check:
- Clocking - This is illegal and it involves the dealer winding back the odometer to make it appear the car has less mileage than it actually does. Doing this increases the vehicle’s value on the market.
- Cloning - Sometimes the number plates of cars are switched with an identical make and model. This mostly occurs when a vehicle has been stolen.
- Cut-and-shuts - Another illegal practice. This is when parts of two or more different cars, which have been damaged due to an accident and written off, have been welded together to take on the identity of one car.
Don’t forget to take the car out for a test drive to check other parts such as tyres, brakes, and indicators.
5. Buy in the right season
Buying in season doesn’t just apply to fruit and veg! When buying a used car, the principle is the same…
For example, Christmas and the New Year are a good time to buy: it’s a quiet period for most car dealers and so they’re often more likely to do a deal. Don’t forget to haggle!
It’s the same if you want to buy a convertible: demand is less in winter and so prices are better for the buyer. While it’s the opposite for 4-wheel drives: buy one in the summer when everyone else is looking at convertibles!
6. Pay with a credit card
Credit cards aren’t all bad – if you can use them to your advantage! This is one such occasion. Be sensible and use your credit card to pay off a small part of the cost of your new car – your deposit for example. Repay that amount as quickly as you can to avoid excessive interest.
The benefit you’re looking for comes with Section 75: the legislation that gives you protection on goods worth up to £30,000. So, for example, if there’s a problem and the trader has gone out of business or won’t communicate with you, your purchase is protected.
7. Documents - CHECK!
Once you’ve made a decision, the last step in our used car buying
guide is to check all documents are present and correct before you
buy the car. If not, this could seriously damage your chances if you want to
documents do you need when buying a used car?
Keep this checklist handy when you go car shopping – online or on the high street – and good luck!
Read More: Your Insurance Docs. Explained.
Now you’ve bought a car, the next step is car insurance. Contact us today so we can help with finding the right insurance for you. We’re all about keeping things quick and easy!