20 Things You Should Know About Buying a Used Car

When buying a used car, you have to be ready to perform extra checks on the vehicle to ensure that it is as advertised. You want to get the best value for your money, especially with a big purchase like this. If it’s you’re first time shopping for a secondhand vehicle, here are some of the most important key points to remember before buying one. 

1. One-year-old Cars are Much Cheaper

On average, a brand new car will have a price tag of about £29,000. However, after a year or around 10,000 miles, the price of that vehicle will just be £20,000. This is a 27% reduction in just 12 months! These are great buys!

2. Older Cars, Lower Price Tags

By its second year, the rate of depreciation will slow down to half, from the previous example you can expect roughly £4,000 to be deducted from the car’s value. If you’re shopping for a used car to save money, choosing models that are at least a year old will significantly cut your upfront cost. Keep in mind that this may not apply to luxury cars, of course, or high-end models. 

3. Size Matters

Cars with smaller engines are more affordable since larger engines burn more fuel compared to smaller ones. Consider the fuel economy of a vehicle when deciding what secondhand vehicle to buy. 

4. Choose a Practical Car

If you only need the car for yourself to drive around town, then you may want to think about getting a small but economical car. 

5. The Difference in Insurance Costs 

It’s also cheaper to insure small vehicles than say, a 4x4. As you may know, cars are categorised by insurance group and ranked from 1 to 50. If you have a higher number assigned to your vehicle, then expect a higher premium. The opposite goes for lower-ranking cars. So, if you’re looking to save money on insurance, choose a more compact car. 

6. Consider the Fuel Type

Should you buy a petrol or diesel car? How about a hybrid or full-electric vehicle? Petrol cars are more affordable than ones that run on diesel, and better for the environment. EVs are even better, but will they suit your typical journeys? 

7. Diesel for Long and Frequent Drives

If you drive a lot over long distances, then diesel engines are usually more economical, but diesel is more expensive to buy.  In determining which is better for you, it all depends on how you plan on using the vehicle. 

8. Go Green

As for hybrid and electric cars, they’re more expensive to buy so you need to set aside a big amount if you’re going to buy one with cash. The advantage of choosing a green car is that they’re cheaper to run and you won’t have to pay as much when it comes to taxes and congestion charges. And of course, they are better for the environment.  Consider if you will be able to have a charging point at your home too.

9. Enjoy Tax Exemptions

For full-electric cars, you can enjoy exemptions from certain charges plus there maybe some government grants to help you with your purchase.  But do check this out as what is available changes all the time. 

10. Know What You Need

When shopping for a used car, be sure to take note of what you need and expect from a vehicle. What are your non-negotiables? Do you need anything specific? It’s important to know how you intend to use the vehicle so that you can have a checklist when you’re looking for the right car to fulfil those needs. Write it down or save it on your phone and make sure you have it whenever you’re shopping for a used car.

11. Prepare Your Finances

It’s crucial to prepare for other related expenses apart from the upfront costs of buying a used car. Set aside money for taxes, insurance, servicing and maintenance etc. And of course don't forget fuel. If you choose to finance a car, then make sure that you will be able to afford the monthly repayments and running costs. 

12. Cost to Run a Car

Of course, as mentioned, you also need to have a budget for fuel to drive the car. This is not cheap these days. Also include MOTs, parking permits, congestion charges, and tolls when making a budget as a car owner.  

13. Be Patient When Shopping

You may think you’ve found the perfect car that will suit your needs but don’t buy it just yet. Unless you know for sure that it’s the best deal there is, then it wouldn’t hurt to take your time and check out other car dealerships. You might find a better car at a more affordable price. Be patient in researching the best deals for used cars. Always sleep on it before making a final decision.

14. Don’t Be Too Shy to Haggle 

Remember that buying a car is a big purchase so don’t be afraid to haggle. Ask if you could get an add-on for free, like a sat-nav or even floor mats. When you haggle, try not to be too aggressive. It’s okay to be firm but be nice and friendly as well. 

15. Discounted Prices

Be on the lookout for cars that already have a discounted price because the prices for those vehicles are more likely to be flexible.

16. Be Meticulous in Checking the Car

Start by checking the mileage and comparing it with the record on the car’s last service to ensure that they’re the same. Check every part and every detail of the car. 

17. Get Someone Who Knows Cars

If you’re not sure how to do so, hire an expert auto mechanic to go with you or ask a friend who knows about cars. Don’t forget to take the car for a test drive. This is where you’ll know if it’s a good fit!

18. Dealer vs. Private Seller

You can save more money if you buy from a private seller but you’ll get extra protection buying a used car from a dealership. You will also have plenty of other choices there. If you find a good car at an attractive price from a private seller, then be ready to put in extra work to check the vehicle and its documents thoroughly.

19. Check the Paperwork

You won’t be handed just a key to the car but a good deal or documents as well. Make sure that you have the Logbook (V5C), servicing booklet, manuals, sales contract, and finance package if you chose to get car financing. Along with the documents, also check that you have the spare wheels and tools, as well as spare keys. 

20. Car Insurance is a Legal Requirement

You need car insurance before you can drive a car on UK roads. Ensure that you’ve already arranged this as soon as the ownership of the vehicle has been transferred to you, and definitely before you drive it away! 🚘