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The used car market often attracts a lot of bad press. We have all read stories of poor hapless buyers ending up out of pocket after buying a car that didn’t exist, or one that was the subject of a bad debt with a hire purchase company. The truth is there are always dodgy dealers and disreputable individuals who are looking to part a fool from his cash, but if you go looking for a used car with your eyes wide open, you are far less likely to be conned or saddled with a lemon. So what should you look out for when buying a used car?
If a second-hand car deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. This is not to say that there are great deals out there if you get lucky, but unless you find some sweet old dear selling a vintage Porsche in mint condition for £500, start asking yourself why the car of your dreams is so cheap. The chances are it is either a wreck, or of dubious origin.
Buying second hand cars is a minefield. Cars are often the subjects of credit agreements and if the previous owner hasn’t settled their finance, you could end up losing your new car to a finance company through no fault of your own. Checking a car’s financial history is relatively simple. There are websites who can do this for you if you have the registration number, although you will probably have to pay a fee. However, a small fee is money well spent if it means you get to avoid buying a dodgy car.
Unless you are a mechanic and you know your way around a car with your eyes closed, it is a seriously good idea to take an expert with you when you go to view a used car. It is very easy to be distracted by sales patter and a bit of charm; it is also very easy to miss major flaws such as holes in the undercarriage and banging noises emanating from under the bonnet if your knowledge of cars is limited to filling them up with fuel.
Always, always check the book price of a car before you go and take a look at it. If you don’t you are far more likely to be ripped off and pay more than the car is worth. Check the second-hand value of the vehicle via online valuation websites. At the very least this will give you some bargaining power if the car is priced a little too high.
Sounds obvious, but not all buyers do this! Driving a car will help you spot any serious faults – if the car won’t start then it’s hardly a good sign!
So if you are in the market for a second hand car, click here for a long list of potential bargains. Just remember to follow the tips above!