Friday, 22 June 2012 1:26 PM
Buying a used car can be a good way to pick up a bargain and to avoid the depreciation associated with new vehicles. However, you are sure to have heard horror stories from people who opted for a second hand motor, and the same could happen to you, unless you do your research.
There are a number of things you need to think about when looking for a used car and, if you remember all of them, you will minimise the risk of making a bad buy. Among the steps you should take are organising a vehicle check to establish its history and a thorough mechanical inspection, as well doing some research into prices. To find out more about why these are important, read on.
Once you have found a second hand car you are interested in purchasing in the small ads or at a local dealer, your next step should be to arrange a test drive. This may seem obvious, as you will want to discover what it is like to drive, but you should also use the experience of taking it out on the road to search for signs of major problems.
Among the things to look out for are whether the warning lights are functioning, the clutch is operating properly and the brakes - including the handbrake - are working as you would expect. You should also listen out for unusual noises and monitor whether there are any vibrations, as they can be symptoms of issues that will be expensive to rectify.
Even if the car behaves perfectly during the test drive, it is sensible to have a thorough inspection carried out by a qualified technician before buying it. Problems with important components or the bodywork can be costly and time-consuming, so you need to know about them.
You may decide that some small issues are not serious enough to deter you from buying the car. However, you will be able to use the knowledge they exist to your advantage when negotiating the price, or reach some arrangement with the seller about who will pay for repairs if they develop into serious problems.
Perhaps the main reason people opt for a used car instead of a new one is to save money, so it is imperative you get a good deal. The first step towards doing this is to find out what the car you are considering buying is worth, which you can do by checking the figure for the model in Glass's Guide. Remember, the final price will be affected by factors such as the condition of the vehicle and whether you have a car to trade in.
Before you begin negotiations decide how much you are willing to pay for the used car, and make sure you do not part with a penny more for it. Car salesmen are used to haggling, so don't be afraid to make a cheeky low offer as an opening gambit. You should also be prepared to make a final offer and walk away from the talks; if they have no other interest in the vehicle, the dealer will get back in touch.
Before parting with any cash, you need to make certain the party selling the car actually owns it and that there is no finance outstanding. It is well worth paying for a full vehicle check, which will reveal whether it has a hidden history. As well as problems with outstanding finance, such a check would flag up if it has been clocked or reported stolen, or is an insurance write-off.