Your Used Car Buyer’s Guide

Rohan Mathew

Updated on:

Car sales almost dried up completely during the depths of the UK lockdown. But as restrictions are gradually eased, road traffic is returning to close pre-coronavirus volume as we return to work and head out in our spare time. If you’d previously put plans to upgrade on hold, could now be the time to invest in a new set of wheels?

Regardless of your current spending power, buying a used car is always likely to be more cost-effective than getting a new one. It’s a known fact that new cars begin losing their value the minute they’re driven off the forecourt. Looking for a model around three years old could cut the price in half – without the tech inside becoming outdated.

So, with your ideal car in mind and local dealership located, what should you keep in mind before you buy?

Get on top of your finances

There are lots of ways to buy a car. Sitting down to review what you can afford and how you’d prefer to do it will give you confidence when it comes to signing on the dotted line.

Consider whether you plan to use vehicle finance, a straightforward personal loan, or buy outright with cash. Think about the size of deposit you’re willing to put down if you choose the former.

Monitor used car market prices

As with utility bills, holidays, and other big-ticket items, it’s a good idea to shop around. Review several dealer websites and private sellers to check the going rate and compare offers based on mileage and other used car factors.

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Even if you still choose the first one you find, at least you’ll know you’re paying a fair price.

Check the paperwork

Checking a used car’s service record is vital for ensuring its current condition and spotting any costly repairs that could be on the horizon.

You should also review sales receipts to prove a dealer or private seller is the legal owner, as well as checking any previous finance agreements that have ended and won’t be passed on to you.

Inspect the car carefully

While used cars are likely to have the odd imperfection, you’ll still want to inspect the bodywork in daylight to check everything is as described. Moving inside, test accessories like electric windows and air conditioning. You should also take a test drive to make sure the car drives and handles as expected.

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Check you have everything you need   

The last thing you want after driving home in your new car is to realize you’re missing something. Make sure you have the spare wheel, original tools, vehicle handbook, and spare keys, as well as anything else like a code to unlock the radio.

Keep these tips in mind to give you full confidence in buying a used car.