Cost-effective and offering a wide range of all makes and models of varying ages, there’s a reason why the used car market is still as popular today as yesteryear. But, on the flip side, with most new cars depreciating at more than 15% of their value a year, the high purchase prices matched with the depreciation are all fair reasons to stick with a used car. 

Whether you want to buy privately, at an auction or at a used car dealership, there are many bargains out there waiting to be snapped up. However, having a strategy in place before entering a sale agreement will help you get the most out of your money. 

Want to know more? Here’s how to get a great deal when buying a used car:

Research is key

One of the best buying tools you have at your disposal is the wealth of information available online. You can check out trusted user and magazine reviews, see how long a car has been on the market for, and find out what vehicles are in your local area and beyond. 

Most sellers will list their cars at a much higher price than the actual value, and it all comes down to seller optimism. They hope to sell their vehicle immediately – taking the burden away from them and earning them a nice lump sum in the process. But that often doesn’t happen. Days quickly turn into months, and that perky optimism soon begins to fade. The only hope the seller has left is to sell their vehicle at a lower price or not at all. 

Enter you, the customer. 

Armed with your research, you know how long that car has been on the market for and if it is competitively priced to similar makes and models. So your slightly lower offer is more likely to be snapped up by the seller, giving you more room for negotiation and a better-priced vehicle as a result. 

Check out your financing options

Traditionally you could go to the bank and secure yourself a personal loan to foot the bill of a wedding, house improvements, and you’ve guessed it, to buy yourself a car. Fast-forward to today, and you can still do all of that and more. With a wealth of lenders available with a few clicks of a button, you can borrow a lump sum to cover the entire cost or enough to secure your new ride. 

With 0% finance deals available and low monthly repayments, the choices available to you have never been more varied. Whether you’re new to finance or have an excellent credit score, some of the best specialist lenders are at your disposal. For those that are self-employed, have incurred a County Court Judgement (CCJ) or have racked up a few debts along the way, bad credit options are available

What’s more, combined with your finance deal, most lenders, banks and finance companies throw in a substantial warranty and servicing package.

Seek out reputable sellers

‘Cheap used cars’ is such a buzzword phrase that has left a dampener on many buyers’ experiences buying a secondhand car. Cheap usually means high maintenance and further problems down the road that your bank balance won’t thank you for. 

The best way to protect your purchase is to research the most reputable used car sellers around before committing to buy. It’s worth noting that most lenders will have an extensive list of all the best sellers around if you are securing funds through car financing. Post-sale support not only gives you peace of mind, but you can rely on having a backup if something goes wrong with your vehicle, such as a courtesy car or warranty.

Inevitably, buying through a private seller or at an auction comes with the highest risks. To avoid any potential post-sale issues, it’s always recommended that you purchase through a dealer with a strong reputation. 

It’s all in the detail

Haggling is a lost art. Before the rise of the digital age, face to face sales gave you more wriggle room to negotiate the price of goods down to an affordable price. Today, you can have finance approved within minutes and be driving away in your new car on the same day. 

Fortunately, used car sales work slightly differently from the classic dealership setup. First off, the vehicle you are looking at is used – it has a history, and there are a whole heap of reasons why it is now sat on the used car sales forecourt. For some cars, life on the road has left its mark. It may be surface scratches, rust build-up or faded paintwork. Still, everything before your eyes is your ticket to bringing the asking price down. 

Pointing out any flaws from the bodywork to the engine to the seller is all part of securing yourself the best deal. Knowledge is power, and your observational skills combined with taking the car out for a spin are all part of your buying toolkit. So use them wisely. 

Check out MOT status and history

Nothing is more annoying than purchasing your dream car, taking on board all its flaws and quirks, and then realising that you have made a massive mistake. Engine troubles, broken valves and more can all cost you more than you first bargained for at the buying stage. 

Luckily, every single vehicle sold within the UK’s information is stored on the DVLA. You can look up the MOT history online, which will highlight any potential red flags. Although used cars are not as reliable as new vehicles, some vehicles simply stand the test of time for brilliant build quality and outstanding performance. 

All you need to carry out a search is the vehicles registration mark and its MOT text number or VC5 registration certificate reference number. If anything stands out as not up to par, move on to a different vehicle. Scoring yourself a great deal on a car doesn’t come down to the cheapness of the price tag but the value of what you are getting for the price. 

Are you ready to score a great deal? Getting your hands on your dream car, regardless of its age, all comes down to a few basics. Check out my self care tips too, if you are feeling stressed from car shopping these might help you to unwind.

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Last Update: Friday, 11th June 2021