Tips For Buying a Used Car

In the current economy, the used car market is growing in popularity, but amongst the millions of good used cars there are many poor quality used cars. Finding a trouble free used car is easy to do if you research well and know what you’re looking for.

Being able to spot these bad used cars will save you from an expensive mistake and also enable you to identify any potential problems that there may be. It’s not about finding the cheapest car in your local dealership because these vehicles will often have poor fuel efficiency or be on its last legs, so over the long term it will cost you more in repairs.

The aim here is to find a strong performing car that fits in your budget. We’ve created this easy to follow guide which will show you how to decide whether a used vehicle is great value or will bring future potential trouble or issues.

View the Car in Daylight

One of the key rules of buying a used car is to always view it in broad daylight and not night time. This is because in the daylight you will be able to have a clearer view of the car including its paintwork and body work.

If you view the vehicle at night, it’s easy to miss rusting spots or if the panels have been painted different colors. Also, taking it one step further, if it’s raining this can also make the paintwork look new and shiny which may not be the case in dry conditions.

Have a 3rd Party Inspection

If you’ve viewed several cars and you’ve narrowed it down to a final shortlist it could be worth paying a 3rd party inspector or garage to check the used car for you. This is ideal if you’re not experienced with cars and you wouldn’t be able to spot obvious problems whereas a seasoned mechanic could spot them a mile off and save you a significant amount of money.

These garages have nothing to lose by telling you the truth so you can rely on them to highlight all the potential problems with the vehicle. Even if you are expereicned with buying used cars, it’s still recommended that you get a 2nd opinion because it’s easy to miss things in a single vehicle inspection.

Buy at the Right Time

If you’ve found the car that you want, you now need to ensure that you get the best price. One way to do this is to buy at the right time.

Dealers have targets to meet which is connected to the amount of bonus that they receive. These quotas are usually monthly or quarterly which makes it better to buy at these times when they are more willing to negotiate and offer you a better package.

If your desired car is from a private seller then there probably isn’t a good or bad time because they don’t have selling targets to meet though of course they want to sell it as quickly as possible. If you’re deciding to buy this way, then make sure you monitor the prices for several months because if the car remains unsold then the price may keep dropping.

Compare Prices

Visit multiple dealers and ask them for their best deal for your desired model of second hand car. Depending on how far your willing to travel this will directly affect the amount of offers that you receive. Make a note of each price that you receive and ask other dealers if they can beat it. Eventually you can buy the vehicle from the dealer offering the best price which can save you a significant amount of money in the long run.


Haggling is just for market stalls, and you should always go in expecting to haggle because they will always expect you to so bring your best offer. The main rule of buying a car is that you should never pay the asking price without even trying to lower it.

Go in prepared knowing the cheapest prices for the same model of car from both online and other dealerships. Bring this as proof to your negotiations, and there are several other ways of haggling the price down to your desired level.

If you’re new to haggling, the easiest place to start is by getting the seller to throw something in for free. It’s common for dealers to say that they’re not allowed to give discounts so instead you can get them to throw something in for free such as a sat nav or a new set of tires. Go to the dealer with your desired add-on already in mind.

If your desired car has already been discounted, then this is a further sign that that there is room for flexibility on price. The dealer will more likely reduce the price further because they’ve already given up on getting the original asking price.

If you’ve gone in with competitor dealership prices then you can play them off against each other especially because each dealer will want to prove that they’re the best in the market.

Pick a Car That Meets Your Needs

A car doesn’t have to be unreliable to be a bad purchase, it could just be the wrong vehicle for your needs. So, if you need a car with three child car seats for your children, don’t by a two seater sports car, because you’ll most likely need a people carrier which has extra room. Buying the wrong car for your needs will cost you more money in the long run as you’ll quickly realise that you need to replace it.

Check the Service History

The service history of a vehicle is incredibly important way for you to gauge how well looked after the car is, and we think that it is just as important as the number of miles that it’s covered.

A car with 30,000 kilometres on the clock may have rarely been serviced which shows the owner didn’t care for it. Whereas another car may have done 60,000 kilometres on the clock but it could have an extensive service history and be in immaculate condition which makes its more reliable than the example with 30,000 on the clock as it will be less likely to cause problems in the future.

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