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Advice Guides - Top tips when buying a used car


Some people will probably never own a brand new car in their lifetime and those that can afford to do so would probably be switched on enough to know buying new isn't exactly a wise investment.

This means buying nearly new or "second hand" but with used car dealers having almost as bad reputations as estate agents and the amount of scams rife currently how can you make sure you don't get yourself taken down the garden path?

Well with years of experience in the trade, we've got a few hints and tips to help you stay one step ahead avoid the sharks.

  1. There are some excellent bargains out there, I've just found a car that should be selling for £15,000 (it's that price everywhere else) and I've managed to find a dealer selling one for £10,000 because he wants a quick sale!

    As the saying goes, if something appears too good to be true it usually is. Have you checked or at least asked that the vehicle isn't on the insurance register? - Dealers aren't obliged to tell you unless you ask and as a rule of thumb vehicles that have been written off are generally worth around half the book price.

    Oh and if the seller starts to mention the car's abroad and you need to spend some money on shipping, laugh at him and walk away!

  2. I’ve been to one car dealer and he has offered nearly five hundred pounds more than anywhere else so I should definitely buy from him as he’s obviously offering the best deal.

    It’s easy to get protective over the price of your old car and to think that the highest price you get offered for it means you are getting the best deal, but this isn’t the case.

    Instead you should be looking at the price to change. It may be that the dealer is over inflating the price of the car they are trying to sell you meaning they can easily offer you another £500 for your car and still make a big profit.

    Ask the dealer how much they will knock off for the car if you don’t part exchange. Then use a site like to compare offers to buy your car from different dealers and car buying companies. We buy any car so regardless of your make and model you can quickly get alternative offers to buy your car and then work out which would be the best route for you to go to achieve the lowest cost to change.

    HPI Check
  3. I’ve bought and paid for the car and my name is on the log book so the car is definitely legally mine now.

    That isn’t necessarily the case. If the car has finance outstanding on it then ownership will remain with the finance company until full settlement has been made. Also if the car has been stolen, the car will still belong to the previous owner and it will be up to you to take the seller of the car to court to recover your money.

    So to protect yourself from the possibility of the above stress and worry you should always carry out a HPI check or Vehicle data check which will confirm the vehicle is finance clear and not stolen as well as indemnify you against any errors should the information be incorrect.

  4. If you mention to your wife or girlfriend that you fancy treating yourself to a new car and they reply “Do what you like, you always do” this is the go ahead to go and spend loads of money on a petrol guzzling convertible that you can’t take the kids out in.

    Speaking as a woman I can assure you this is most certainly not the case. Translated this means “If you go ahead and buy yourself a new toy, thus affecting my shoe budget, it’s no more hanky-panky for you”.
    Used Car Warranty

  5. I should definitely buy from a dealer as they give you a warranty which I won’t get if I buy privately.

    True dealers are under an obligation to give a level of warranty on the car’s that they sell but most of these are simply underwritten insurance policies that only cover selected items and most won’t cover general wear and tear.

    Also you can always purchase a warranty on a car you are buying privately. Companies such as Warranty Direct and Warranty Wise will be able to quickly give you a quotation and some will even cover things like MOT repairs, so they are definitely worth researching.

  6. I’ve found a nice car online that sounds perfect but the buyer insists on meeting up at a petrol station to view the car and do the deal if I’m happy with it.

    If you are buying privately you should never meet anywhere other than the buyers home. If they are the ones insisting on meeting at a service station it sounds like they have something to hide, and without a firm address where do you go if there is a problem?

    Clocked Car

  7. The car has a full service history but the seller has managed to lose the service booklet.

    Not everybody tell fibs but something as important as a service booklet is usually kept safe and generally with the rest of the vehicle book pack.

    Service history is a great record to check the vehicle’s mileage is accurate and correct if this is missing it will make things trickier to confirm. Ask if they have the previous MOT’s which will have the mileage logged and if these are missing too I would be very cautious and maybe ask for an independent inspection if you are spending a large amount of money. A professional appraiser should be able to recognise a car that has done more miles than it is claiming to have done.
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