How to Buy a Used Car

2009 Kia Borrego

Buying a used car can be a tricky process. Not only do you have to actually find a car that you want, you have to avoid the pitfalls! Here are a few tips to help you find the best used car for you.
Research and Budgeting

Narrowing down the search is key to finding a good used car. With so much choice, you need to separate what you want from a car and what you need from a car. What will you use the car for and how many people it needs to seat on a regular basis?

Work out your budget. If you have a car, figure out how much it is worth and how much it is likely to sell for. Do you need a loan or financial help? Calculate how much you can afford to spend on fuel, insurance and road tax each month or year.

Once You’ve Found a Car

Research as much information as you can about the vehicle, such as insurance, fuel and road tax costs, as well as whether the model has common faults that could occur and need to be checked. You should also research the value of the car so you can figure out whether you’re being conned or not, and means that you can use it as a negotiating tactic if there are any problems with the car.

Inspect It

Visit the vehicle in daylight and look it over thoroughly. If you know a mechanic or someone who is interested in mechanics, then bring them along to help you. You can alternatively get an independent inspection, and while these can cost a lot of money, they can give you peace of mind if they don’t find anything wrong or help you negotiate on price if they do.

Make Sure of the Mileage

Check that the mileage looks consistent with the way the vehicle looks, particularly the steering wheel, gear knob and pedals. Look at the mileage on the service records ad MOT certificates and if you have any doubts, then just don’t buy.

Check the Service History

Again, check for consistency in the history. Check the V5C registration document, the MOT history and tax history, and though the MOT history might not be complete in older cars, you want a good comprehensive story. Did they service it regularly, and did they have to have any major servicing work done? The V5C tells you who the registered keeper of the car is, and if it isn’t the same as the person selling it to you, then you need to ask why.

HPI Check

If the car has been stolen, written off or outstanding finance, then an HPI check will weed it out. It does cost money, but it will make sure that the care you want it a good one.

Take It for a Spin

Make sure you’re insured to drive it, and have proof. Try and vary the driving as much as you can, fast and slow, reversing and manoeuvring. If you can, have the seller drive for a while so you can listen to the engine to make sure it sounds right.

Don’t be afraid of haggling, but don’t be confrontational! If you’re looking to buy a used car, try the Car Shop, the UK’s leading used car retailer.

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