Buying Used Cars

Tuesday, July 10, 2012
When looking to buy a second hand car you should be extra careful and vigilant as purchasing a car from a private sale does not usually come with the reassurance of a warranty.

Used cars have one major advantage over buying a brand new vehicle and that is the price. Used cars, even if only a year or two old are substantially cheaper than new cars. From the moment a vehicle is driven off a dealer's forecourt the depreciation begins and in the early days the price drop is disproportionate to the vehicles actual wear and tear.

If you are not mechanically minded yourself it is probably a good idea to take someone, preferably a mechanic with you or better still instruct a specialist engineer to examine the vehicle on your behalf. Although this will increase your budget it will not only give you peace of mind but will undoubtedly be money well spent if a serious problem is discovered.

Take your time and do not rush into a purchase just because you think you will lose the sale. Remember there are thousands of used cars out there to choose from.

Decide on your budget and stick to it! Make sure you have included tax, insurance and any accessories you might need on top of the actual cost of the car in your budget. Make sure you are buying the right car for your needs. If it's a family vehicle you are looking for to ferry the kids around, do not get carried away looking at two seated roadsters. It's easily done!

Make sure you research thoroughly and buy several magazines and guides from your local newsagent. This will help you have a better understanding of prices and market trends, as you will find thousands of used cars listed.

When viewing any used cars make sure you do it in the daytime preferably at the seller's home address. Daytime viewings will ensure that any defects to the bodywork are easily noticed and viewing the vehicle at the seller's home address will give you an idea of how the vehicle has been maintained. If the vendor wants to carry out the transaction elsewhere demand that it is a public place. This is for your own safety, as you do not know who you will be dealing with.

It is quite normal for used cars to have had several prior owners so do not be put of by this, but do check the cars log book and service history carefully making sure the documents are in order and all the dates and records check out.

Carry out a H P I check to verify the cars history. You will be able to determine if the vehicle has any outstanding finance or if it has been stolen. Also this check will determine if the vehicle has been subject to an insurance write off or if the mileage has been altered.

Ask the vendor as many questions as possible about the cars history, especially the reason for sale. That said; do not take any reply as an absolute truth!

Take as long as you want with your inspection

Checking the Interior

Ensure all the electrics, including mirrors; windows and central locking are in good working order. Test the seat belts click into their sockets and retract properly. Check the wear on the foot pedals, as this will give you an indication if the vehicle has covered an excessive amount of miles. Lift any seat blankets, which may be hiding burns and stains. Do not be afraid to check under floor mats and upholstery for rot and corrosion. Feel around for any damp or water residue and when inside have a good sniff for any mould or pet smells, as this is a sure sign there may be stains or damp lurking somewhere.

Exterior inspection

Look down the sides of the vehicle as some used cars would have suffered the odd bump or two in their time. Check to see if the panels are in line and free from any filer. Make sure there are no irregular gaps between the doors, bonnet and boot. Check the colour match on each panel for signs of a respray. Feel under the wheel arches and seals for signs of rust.

Most used cars will need some money spent on them and normally this will be tires and exhausts. The minimum tyre tread is 1.6mm so check all the tyres have at least this depth and factor replacement costs into your budget if they are near the mark. Inspect the exhaust, and check that it is not noisy or blowing.

The Engine

Check the engine oil and ensure that it is brown and transparent. Make sure the paintwork in the engine bay matches that of the cars exterior. Check for leaks on hoses and pipes before and after the test drive.

When the engine is started it should idle smoothly. Listen carefully for any irregular rattles or grinding sounds.

The Test Drive

Do not be afraid to ask for a test drive, preferably with you driving the vehicle.

If possible drive the vehicle on a variety of road surfaces so you can feel the cars handling. Check the suspension is solid and the vehicle holds a true line. Listen for any grinding when the steering wheel is at full lock. Once the vehicle is moving listen for any irregular engine noises.

Closing the Deal

Once you are satisfied the vehicle is for you and it has passed the above checks do not be afraid to haggle over the price. Most sellers of used cars are prepared to negotiate over the original asking price. Where possible try to get the seller to include any extras or accessories.

An important point to remember is not to feel pressured into buying a car no matter how good the sales patter is.

If you have any doubts about the purchase then DO NOT BUY as there are many other used cars out there to choose from


  • Patrick

    If you are buying through a private transaction and not from a car dealer company, you should be more critical than ever. Yes, you may get a cheaper price, but you can’t be sure that the car you are planning to buy is in sound condition. You have to put a bit more personal effort into ensuring that your would-be investment won’t fail. Another thing, be very rational when closing the deal. Dealing with someone you do not personally know could be quite risky. Nonetheless, do not be overly suspicious.

    Patrick Gauer

  • Ella

    very use ful tips you are given thank you.Identify your needs. Identify whether you want the car for daily usage for going to office, or for weekend getaways or both. Read up about the specifics of various cars and shortlist the ones that match your lifestyle and image.

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  • Though there is huge difference between a brand new car and second hand car but to the frugal people it's a great opportunity to be a owner of car whatever it is used so I think the seekers can think about it but after a profound investigation and for that this post can be a good support. Thanks for sharing your opinion.
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  • Kate Dunkin

    Thank you so much for sharing this information with us on buying used cars, you have been a huge help! I have been online all morning searching for McAllen Texas Used Cars but I'm also new to the whole used car process. That's why your informative blog has helped me so much, I'm definitely going to subscribe to your blog so I can stay up to date on everything you post. Thank you again for sharing and helping!

  • Unknown

    I read your post. And I know about before buying used car we check all features on car like condition, facility, feature, market price, affordable rates and many more.

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  • Ivo Beutler

    I would like to emphasize the importance of a test drive. By doing this process, you can measure the level of comfort you have as you drive the car. Moreover, you will have an idea if you can control the car on the road. Every car has a different mechanism. Owning a car which you can drive with ease would lessen the risk of road mishaps.

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  • I always buy used cars. I have had an old mustang and now a 2000 civic and they were(are) both GREAT cars. You don't need to waste money on a new one...

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  • Unknown

    Thanks for your post.Buying a used car can be a real good deal if you keep some things in mind. The following post may also be helpful

  • Erwin Calverley

    Make a good budget list, and do not forget to add the possible maintenance expenditure to your list, since the car you would purchase would be for long-term use. This will be important for narrowing down prospects that would suit your long-term budget.

    Erwin Calverley

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  • Sebastian Gaydos

    Be sure to voice out everything you observe during your inspection of the vehicle before having a test drive. Do that also when you test drive the vehicle. That will make it clear to the salesperson that you know what you’re doing and you have some slight dissatisfaction about the car’s present state, which you could later reiterate if it ever comes that you would already be negotiating with the price.

    Sebastian Gaydos

  • Tyra Shortino

    I agree with Erwin. Making a good budget list that includes possible maintenance expenses will definitely come a long way. Having a budget and sticking tightly to it would make you stay clear of overpaying for a car and totally screwing up your budget for other necessities.

    Tyra Shortino

  • kelly wilson
    This comment has been removed by the author.
  • Unknown

    When closing the deal, it’s fine to ask for a pretty good discount. Per what you said, dealers are usually open to negotiations. Just make sure that you ask for a very reasonable price because some potential buyers ask for too much thinking that it’s just a secondhand car. It still has value, so you must come up with a good deal.

    Nettie Christensen

  • David John

    A best discussion on used car busying topic according to me, better content, informative post and effective planning to post are something I noticed about it

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  • David John

    I would like to thank you for some of the useful buying used cars information you shared.

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  • I like this blog, because the topic is about tips in buying a used car. It is not easy to find the best used car because sometimes they are not good in condition. I saw a used engine car on this website and I think they are in good quality.

  • Unknown

    Hey! Keep it up! This is a good read. I will be looking forward to visit your page again and for your other posts as well. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about used auto in your area. I am glad to stop by your site and know more about used auto.
    There are various theories as to how the market determines the prices of used cars sold by private parties, especially relative to new cars. One theory suggests that new car dealers are able to put more effort into selling a car, and can therefore stimulate stronger demand. Another theory suggests that owners of problematic cars ("lemons") are more likely to want to sell their cars than owners of perfectly functioning vehicles. Therefore, someone buying a used car bears a higher risk of buying a lemon, and the market price tends to adjust downwards to reflect that.
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  • Unknown

    Right! Used cars have great stand against brand new ones in terms on the price and that is one thing most customer consider first than anything else in buying. car loan apporval

  • nutrendmedia

    Thank you so much for sharing this information with us on buying used cars, you have been a huge help!

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  • It is better to pay attention and remain cautious while buying used vehicle, so that you can protect yourself from getting cheated by somebody. A thorough inspection of the car is pretty mandatory instead of believing on somebody as it is a matter of your investment. Thanks for sharing such wonderful tips; it would certainly help all those looking for a used vehicle.
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