Buying a car is by no means an easy decision – you are making a commitment to something that you will be relying on daily. That’s why we’ve come up with six golden rules of buying a used car – follow them and you should be on the right track.
1. Test drive the car you want
This seems like the most obvious rule you can think of, but it is staggering how many people don’t test drive the car they are looking to buy. You can look at a car for days and read its list of specifications until your eyes go blurry, but without taking it for a test drive you will never know what it’s like to drive.
2. Pick your time
This sounds dubious but picking a time to buy your used car is a great way of saving money. August and February are often seen as two good times, as this is just before number plate formats are changed, which is a quieter time for dealers. Also avoid weekends and aim for towards the end of the month – it’s more likely that dealers will be looking to make their bonus quota.
3. Make yourself a used car checklist
Unlike a new model, a used car requires you to look for some tell-tell signs. The main things to look out for are:
- Mileage: Check the clock against the age of the car and ask yourself if there’s anything that doesn’t add up
- Engine: Ask to see the engine and look for any signs that there has been any undisclosed work or any leakages under the engine
- Overall condition: Check for any scratches, dents or marks inside and outside the car
- Test the gadgets: Make sure that every gizmo in the car is working as it should
- Check the essentials: Windows, lights, doors (including boot) and safety locks
4. Always haggle
A general rule of thumb is never, ever pay the listed price. Haggling is part and parcel of buying a used car and a totally accepted part of the process. You can ask for anything from additional extras (i.e. free sat-nav, better aftercare) to a heavily discounted price, just make sure you do so with confidence and manners. If you love the car but not the price, walk away – there’s always other cars and if you leave your number you might even get a call back.
5. Choose a good car dealer
Choosing a good car dealer is the number one, best way of buying the right used car. Essentially, the more reliable the dealer is, the less likely they will be to sell you a bad car. So, do your research! Look for reviews, extensive listings on their sites and their association with relevant authorities (e.g. FCA, RMIF). In addition, look out for car dealers who offer a warranty – always a major plus.
6. Conduct an independent report
If you’re still unsure about whether the car you are looking at is reliable, you can get an independent report. This should be a last resort, but if you are making a big investment in your dream car, you can get a report from The Motor Ombudsman – they are a government-backed body that deals with the motoring industry.
Purchasing a used car is a big commitment, so you should make sure that you stick to these key golden rules. We hope that our tips will steer you in the right direction and get you behind the wheel of a quality used car.
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