Buying a used car can be a great way to get the costs down if you’re in need of a new motor. You’ll pay a lot less, and if you know what to look for then you can still get a car that runs well and lasts a good while. In many cases, buying a used car means that you can buy a car outright as well: you don’t need to commit to years of high interest repayments.
Of course, there are pitfalls too when it comes to buying second-hand vehicles. If you don’t know what you’re looking for, it can be hard to determine whether you’re getting a good deal. Luckily, there are a few different tricks you can use to learn a little more about the car before you commit to buying it.
Check the MOT history
The gov.uk website includes a tool that allows you to check a vehicle’s MOT history. It goes a lot further than simply telling you the dates of the MOTs, or even whether the vehicle passed/failed. You also get the full details of reasons for failure and any advisories (work that the mechanic recommends getting done). Looking at advisories from recent years is particularly handy because it gives you an idea of the issues that may need fixing soon.
You can also use the MOT history to check the car’s mileage, to make sure that it’s consistent with what the seller is telling you. The only thing you need to run this check is the car’s number plate, which the seller should be happy to share with you.
Price the car against other similar models
It’s important to make sure that the car you’re buying isn’t overpriced, and a good way to do that is by comparing it against other similar used cars to get an idea of the going rate. Use a trusted site like Autotrader to look at cars of a similar age, size and mileage to gauge whether the price you’re being offered is fair or not.
Check the dealer’s reviews
When buying a used car, you have two choices: dealers and private sellers. Buying from a private seller may get you a better price, but with a dealer it can be easier to resolve any issues that emerge after the sale takes place – in some cases, you’ll even be offered a warranty. Unfortunately, not all dealers are trustworthy. Check reviews to see if there are any complaints of cars being miss-sold or damage not being disclosed.
Haggle for a better offer
Don’t be afraid to ask for a better price: the worst that can happen is that they’ll say no. If there are any problems with the car, try to get the dealer to repair them for you before you take the vehicle – and ask if they’ll throw the work in for free. Make sure you have a clear budget in mind before you start negotiations. If they can’t do the car for the price that you want then move on and find something that better fits your criteria. Most importantly, stay calm and remember that you’re in control of the sale. There’s no obligation to buy just because you’ve taken a test drive!