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Key Questions When Buying a Used Car

Buying a new car represents a substantial investment. And rightly or wrongly, used car salesmen have a bad reputation.  If you’re considering investing in a new set of wheels, here’s a quick run-down to the main factors which you should consider. 

Where Should I Look?

Buying a Used Car

There’s a wide range of options when looking for a new car. Main dealers are a good choice if you’re looking for a wide range of cars from the same brand, warranties and servicing. However, cars bought in this way can be more expensive. A second hand car showroom is another good choice, and many of these places also offer servicing, warranties and guarantees. The final option is a private sale. This is often the cheapest option, but it’s rare to get warranties from a private individual.


It’s easy to look at the basic history of a car online. Just put in the registration number and you can heck that the current owner has taxed it, and see the results of previous MOT tests too. Most sellers will happily show you the book showing the car has been regularly serviced. It’s also worth running a HPI check online to make sure that the car isn’t a previous write-off and doesn’t have outstanding finance on it. Sellers should be happy to share all the paperwork regarding the car with you. Start asking questions if they don’t have it all.

Basic Mechanical and Body Checks

If you’re not experienced with cars, it’s worth paying for an independent mechanic to give a car you’re thinking of buying the once over. If you are inspecting the car yourself pay attention to issues such as gaps between the panels, dents scratches and make sure you test the electrics by turning everything off and on. Never buy a car without a test drive. Listen out for any weird noises, and don’t be fobbed off if you think something’s wrong. If you’re not sure about a car then walk away; there will always be another option for buying. 

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Not many people save up and then buy a car outright, for cash. Most people will have some sort of finance agreement, whether that be with the dealer who sold the car or through a bank. The best finance for you will depend on your circumstances. The best advice is always to shop around and compare offers before making a decision. Never go with the first finance package you come across. 

Ongoing Costs

Don’t just think about the initial purchase price when selecting a new car. Ongoing costs such as insurance, road tax, servicing and repairs can easily mount up. Older cars, especially those with high mileage, are perhaps more likely to fail a MOT and require expensive repairs than newer cars. A more fuel efficient choice will cut your weekly bills for petrol or diesel. The other big expense is insurance, especially for new or younger drivers. There are lots of calculators online where you can get estimates for how much insurance you’ll pay on various types of car. 

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