Top Tips for Buying a Used Car

How much a used car costs you will ultimately depend on which car you get, but there are lots of good ways to bring down the cost.

Year old cars are WAY cheaper than brand new cars

On average, a new car has a price of around £28,500. But after only one year, with 10,000 miles on the clock it costs just £21,000. That’s a reduction of more than 27% in the first 12 months. So choosing a year-old model will radically slash the cost. There are even some dealerships, such as Unbeatable Cars, who specialize in nearly new cars.

However, there are a few exceptions if you’re picking a plush model. Brands that best hold their value include Mercedes and Porsche – so there won’t be too many year old extravagant car bargains out there.

The cheapest cars to run

To save you time and energy trying to work this out, car experts have already done the research for you. You can compare the running costs of different models on sites such as Parkers and What Car? But as a rule the cheaper cars to run have smaller engines, petrol rather than diesel and are manual rather than automatic.

Hybrid cars are very cheap to run, but they cost more to buy. Fuel-economy and cheap or even zero tax rates make part-electric models, like the Toyota Prius, appealing. They also usually hold their value for resale.

Smaller cars are also cheaper to insure. Cars are placed in groups ranked between one and 50, using research by the Motor Insurance Repair Research Centre. This is based on a range of info including performance, safety features, the price of a new model and the cost of spare parts. Cars in Group One are the cheapest to insure.

Dealership or private seller?

Buying from a dealer costs more than buying privately, but it gives you extra protection in the event that something goes wrong after purchase.

Most dealers check the cars over before selling them. They also often give warranties on approved used cars and they’ll have made the car look and feel new, replacing any faulty parts before sale.

So you might pay more buying from a dealer than a private buyer, but it often gives you peace of mind about the car and makes it easier to make a complaint if you need to.

If the car turns out to be faulty you should be able to get a refund, repair or replacement.

Warning! Be wary of any dealer that displays signs such as ‘sold as seen’ or ‘no refund’. They are sneakily trying to limit your rights, so make sure that you check the conditions of sale.

The best time to buy

Dealerships have targets to meet (and bonuses up for grabs). Usually these are based on quarterly sales, so the end of March, June, September and December are good times to buy. They need to sell cars, so will be more willing to negotiate and offer attractive deals. Try to avoid weekends, or the start of the month, just after payday. A dealership crammed full with potential buyers is not a good place to find a bargain.

Of course, none of this applies if you are buying from a private seller.

Compare dealerships

Ask every dealer in your area for the best deal they can give you on the second-hand car of choice. If you’re prepared to travel to find the lowest price then expand your radius. Make a note of the best price and ask others to beat it.

You could always go back to your local dealer to ask if they’ll match the best offer and save you travelling. They might be keen for your business and happy to offer the same deal.

Always haggle!

Haggling is a dealer’s classic skill – and it’s expected of you as well – so bargain hard. The first rule is that you shouldn’t EVER pay the list price of a car – you’d be a fool to hand over the full cost. Arm yourself with the cheapest prices on the net and make dealers compete for your custom.

Haggling can be daunting, but there’s really nothing to be scared of. However, some car supermarkets have a no-haggle policy, so do check this out beforehand.

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