The biggest problem with buying a used car is that you will never truly know the history of the vehicle, what is has been through, who has driven it, or how technically sound it is. But there are a few things you can do to reduce the risk, and hopefully get a lot of future use from your new purchase.
Although we all may dream of buying a fleet of new cars, maybe adding a Ferrari, a Lamborghini or a Rolls Royce to our collection, the reality is that we often have to settle for something within a much smaller budget, and that is where a second-hand car is often the only option.
The sad reality is that new cars depreciate the moment we but them, and the quality standard of the car also reduces with every single trip. The first top tip for buying a used car is to have realistic expectations.
While cheaper cars can be cheaper to buy, this doesn’t necessarily mean they are cheap to run. So, it’s key that before you investigate buying a car or making any decisions that you set out your budget for the car and any additional costs. Find out how much does servicing cost, how expensive are spare parts, how freely available are those parts? Do a thorough check assuming things might go wrong, not because you should be pessimistic, but rather because faults do happen so if you plan for them within your budget then they won´t be so much of a surprise.
By the way, some industry experts estimate that on average a person would spend 1,800 euro per year on their car and keeping it roadworthy, increasing over time, so keep this in mind, perhaps spreading a budget over that year.
The figure includes fuel, as well as insurance and tax, but also servicing and maintenance.
Love at First Sight?
Don´t trust your first impression. Make sure you look at the car with a critical eye. Having a reliable and sturdy car is not about the colour, so don´t fall into the trap of choosing a vehicle by that means, but rather take a long and detailed look at it.
You can research the model online, checking to see what the most common problems and faults are, and then check your new potential purchase for signs of those problems.
Look out for obvious modifications. Some vehicle modifications can render the ITV as invalid, whereas other can simply be masking a deeper problem. Modifications can also increase the cost of insurance.
Check the car in daylight too, so you can see clearly if there are any problems.
History? What History?
All cars have two histories. One, we will never know about, as we have not been with it for the duration of its life, and neither has the current owner. Even the most careful of drivers cannot avoid leaving their car in the street or a car park, and so nobody really knows what has happened during that time.
However, there is one history we can check, that is the administrative register. We have covered this in some detail before, so scroll down our wall if you want to find that, but it is important that you check the car and see if there are any debts, fines or other issues recorded, as if you buy it, they become your problem.
Check the Documents
Does the car come with the original documents such as the logbook and ITV card? If not, you may need to ask the seller to obtain these before you buy the car. Don´t but a car without the original documents as you cannot be sure it is even for sale.
It is important to test drive any car you are thinking of buying, new or second hand, but it is arguably more important for the latter. Whilst a car might look pristine on the outside, we don´t usually buy cars for their aesthetics but rather as a mobility tool, so how it will feel getting us from a to b is crucial.
Check everything during the test drive. See if the car pulls to either side, if it stops safely, accelerates well, and if it turns without struggling. Check all the features of the car too, such as the electrics, including the lights, and the safety features such as seat belts. Check the windscreen wipers, washers, everything you might use on a regular, or occasional basis.
You don´t have to settle for one test drive of course, go back and do it again if you feel it appropriate, maybe even at night, whatever makes you feel more confident in the vehicle you are buying.
Buying a car can be a stressful time, it is a big investment, and it will not be without problems (sorry), but if you check these things before buying a car, and more importantly make sure you are 100% happy before handing over any money, then hopefully you will have a long and happy life still with your new, albeit second-hand, motor.