Automotive Tips

A Kick-Ass Guide to Buying a Used Car

To say that buying a used car can be a bit of a minefield is a massive understatement. From deciding upon the type of car you need to ensuring you don’t fall foul of a dodgy dealer and even working out how you are going to pay for it, there’s a monumental list of things to consider.

With this in mind, we decided it was high time we produced a kick-ass guide to buying a used car.

Covering everything from selecting the right type of car to where to find it, what to check before you buy and even how to pay for it, without further ado, here it is.

1. What type of car do you need

First things first, before you begin searching for a used car, you need to have a clear idea of what exactly you are looking for. For example, if you have a spouse and four kids you will most likely be after a seven seater.

On the other hand, if you are a single 20 something and have only recently passed your driving test, the most suitable car is likely to be something small and low powered.

Of course, budget will also have an impact on the car you are after. Taking that into consideration it’s important to consider fuel consumption along with road tax and how much it will cost you to insure.

2. Where to look

The rise of online car retailing has brought with it a whole host of ways to find and buy a used car. From classified portals such as Auto Trader to auctions sites like eBay, it’s the sheer choice rather than the lack of choice that’s often the biggest headache.

3. What to check before you agree to buy

Vehicle condition

Nobody wants to end up blowing thousands of pounds on a pile of crap, but given the nature of used cars, it’s all to easily done.

With this in mind, it’s important to test-drive a car before you decide to buy.

Important things to look out for include unusual engine noises, rattling and unresponsive brakes.

You should also ensure all lights, air conditioning and audio equipment is working. Aside from that, there are tyres, which should all have a minimum tread of 1.6mm.

For extra peace of mind you may want to have an independent mechanic check things over, of course, it always helps if you have a mate in the trade.

Failing that, a basic vehicle inspection shouldn’t set you back any more than £50, but could prove invaluable in ensuring you don’t fall foul of a dodgy car.

Service history and MOT

Buying a car without full or at the very least, part service history is almost like buying a house without a structural survey. In order to ensure the car has been well looked after and ultimately kept in tip top condition, it’s a must. Of course, it will likely mean you pay slightly more for the car, but in the long run it’s worthy every penny.

Aside from service history, it’s also important to ensure the car has a valid MOT certificate as it is a legal requirement in the UK. You’d also be wise to check if there are any advisory items on the MOT certificate as this could hint towards the likelihood of future repair work.

Vehicle history check

A vehicle history check is a must regardless of whether you buy a car from a reputable dealer, a sole trader or a private individual.

Ensuring you don’t fall foul of a stolen car, an insurance write off or a car that has outstanding finance, a vehicle history check should set you back no more than a couple of pounds, but could save you a small fortune.

Also use the ULEZ checker if you travel in London.

4. How to pay

There are many ways to pay for a car, cash being one. If you have sufficient funds, then it is undoubtedly the most sensible and cost effective way to pay.

However, given the fact that most of us don’t have the money required to pay for a car in one lump sum, car finance has grown to become the most popular.

In particular, the PCP, which is essentially the most flexible of all finance options.

Aside from car finance, there are bank loans, which in some cases can offer lower rates and more favourable terms.

Meanwhile, some chose to pay via a credit card, but it’s only likely to make sense if you obtain a card with an interest-free period and repay the full balance within than period.