How To Search For The Best Used Cars

Did you know that on average, a brand-new car will lose anything from 15-25% of its value by the end of its first year? With that in mind, it’s easy to see why most drivers purchase their cars second-hand, and why most vehicles sold by dealers are used. If you’re wondering how to search for the best-used cars 🤔 then that’s what we’re here to discover. Read on to explore our guide to finding a second-hand vehicle.

Do the Research

Whilst most cars are still bought offline, the way people find a vehicle has changed drastically over the last 20 years. Long gone are the days of looking through classifieds in Auto Express or touring around garage forecourts. Today, according to a US survey, about 86% of car shoppers research online before visiting a dealership. 

The worldwide web is pivotal to car-buying, and many people are even purchasing a vehicle entirely online. With access to so much information, it has never been easier to find a car online and do the necessary research. If you plan on purchasing a used vehicle, you’ll almost certainly begin your search on the web.

When determining which vehicle to purchase, ask which used cars have the highest reliability rating. Specific models, like the Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, and Ford Focus, are known to have some of the best reliability ratings on the market. 

Where Should I Look for a Used Car?

Two primary ways to buy a used car are direct from the seller, or at a dealership. An overwhelming majority of people buy used cars through the dealership as it offers more protection, such as guarantees if anything goes wrong with the vehicle in the first few months. 

When it comes to finding a used car online, plenty of websites sell all sorts of vehicles. The most popular ones are:

You can also use classified websites like Gumtree and eBay, although the vehicles sold on these platforms will be straight from a private seller, not a car dealership. Take care these vehicles exist, do the necessary checks and always view them before buying.

Most people begin their car journey on Auto Trader because of its long history of selling used cars online, alongside its advanced search tools that make it easy to find a used vehicle. That’s not to say you can’t use other options on the market, but Auto Trader is still seen as the holy grail when searching for the best-used cars. 

What Should I Look for in a Used Car?

You’ll want to purchase a used car with confidence, which means going through a checklist before you go and see it in real life. You should also perform an HPI check.

HPI Checks

An HPI check is a Hire Purchase Investigation, and it was initially created to provide reports for people buying used cars, to stop fraud. HPI works alongside the DVLA, insurers, and the police, to help people purchase good-quality second-hand vehicles. 

An HPI check will:

  • See if the car owes outstanding finance
  • Has previously been written off, for example, it is classified as a Cat D
  • Has been stolen
  • If the mileage shown is genuine and matches the car’s previous MOT
  • If it has a current MOT 
  • The number of previous owners
  • Identification details such as the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number)
  • The number of the number plate, as well as colour changes
  • If the vehicle has been scrapped or exported

If you have the registration number, you can perform an HPI check for any car. Some finance companies, such as Carmoola, will perform this check for you for free. Most HPI checks cost around £10, although the prices vary depending on the date of the check. 

How Do I Know if a Used Car is a Good Price?

You can look on car sale websites and compare models with a similar mileage to see if the price stacks up. Some websites like Auto Trader even offer a barometer, checking if the car is a good deal and in line with market value, or overpriced. 

You can also use online car-valuation tools to get an approximate valuation for the car you’d like to buy – most work by asking you to enter the registration and mileage. Once you have the price, it is easier to negotiate with the dealership or seller. 

Ready to Search for the Best Used Car?

Your search will almost always start online, so knowing where to go and which tools to use is handy. With the tips in this guide, you can give yourself the best chance of finding a great used car online and driving away a happy car owner. 😃🚘

Another thing that’s going to make you the happy owner of a new set of wheels is our convenient finance options. We provide Hire Purchase agreements to suit most budgets. Getting finance with Carmoola is fast and simple, with the entire process carried out entirely online. No annoying phone calls or long delays, check out how our finance works today.