Wednesday, 17 March 2021

How to Buy a Used Car When You Are Not A Car Person

If you are reading this and you know all about torque, 0-60 times and generally into cars then you may have the wrong article…but by all means stay! If, however, you are one of the millions of people that use cars to get around but do not find them in any way interesting or exciting, read on!

Used Cars

While many people are choosing to lease cars these days or buy on finance there are still a lot of people who simply choose to buy a used car. There are lots of good points about doing this. Firstly, it is essentially recycling, rather than using all those materials to make a new car we can get along just fine with a car a few years old. The other side is the obvious financial benefit of the fact used cars are generally cheaper and you can often get something you wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford if it were new. However, buying a used car is not without its risks and it can be a real minefield even for those who are into cars. But there are some things you can do to make it easier and less risky so here are a few simple tips to help!

Choosing a Car

This can often be the hardest part, where do you start? The problem with not being a “car person” is that you may not be aware of all the makes and models out there or what’s well known for being good or bad. So, the best starting point is to look around you, look on your street, speak to friends and family and get a feel for what you may want. The next step is to make a list of things you think you need. For example, how big do you want it? Do you want a big boot? Do you want a 5-door car or are you ok with folding front seats? Do you want something for big trips or small shop and school runs or to work and back? Once you get a solid list of requirements you will be able to start narrowing things down a bit.

Price Range

It is really important at this stage to get an idea of what you can afford. It’s less about budget and more about what you can get for your budget. A lot of people fall into a trap of seeing a really exciting car in their budget and fail to check if there are other similar cars for the same money. The issue there is the car they like may be a real lemon and the only one at that price, so check other models of the same type for an average price.  Once you have a price range, and a budget you can start to refine your list along with your requirements. Sites like Autotrader allow you to filter quite a few options. It is often best to start with no make and model and just search by engine type, size, car shape and price.

Engines, Gearboxes and Fuel

OK…this bit can get a bit petrol heady, but it is important. Firstly, automatic vs manual; if you have driven both then that’s great, you know what you like. If you have not and you are not sure about an automatic, then read up on it a bit. Autos can be brilliant, but they can be costly if they go wrong, odd to drive and quite economical. Diesel of petrol? This is a huge debate, but the short answer is diesel is more economical but produces worse gases and particles. Petrol is a little worse in terms of CO2 but it less harmful to people and animals. Ultimately diesel is on the way out and there could be charges and taxes just around the corner. Diesel engines also need a turbo to produce enough power so that can be an extra complication in older cars. For most people, diesel can be a bargain but if you plan on keeping it for a while petrol is a safer bet.

Buying a Legit Car

There are a lot of risks in buying anything used. Cars are no different, some car might have been written off and sold without you knowing that, some might be sold with finance outstanding so you would owe the money, so might even be stolen or not have a valid MOT. So, its best to use a car checking service. Some of these are free, others cost a bit but show you service history, previous MOTs and so much more. Its worth paying for one once you find a car or a few cars you like.

The Deal

This is often the worst bit, most normal people hate haggling, they don’t want to be sold too and the idea of standing around trying to make a choice about a car can be really daunting. However, if you do your homework before it removes so much of the pressure. Chat with the owner, make it clear you know what you want and do not be afraid to walk away. If you want to suggest a lower price do, but you don’t have too if the price is good for you. Be aware a lot of used car ads are actually car dealers, they may look like a person selling a single car until you arrive and they have 10 on the driveway. A lot of people ask first and make a choice whether or not to go and see the car. Dealers can be a little pushy and they are trying to make a profit unlike a truly domestic sale. Don’t be put off but be aware and take a friend! It is always nice to have someone with you to help spot things, to give you a nod and say its lovely or just for company and to help drive it home.

Used cars are great, but there are millions of them and buying the wrong one is a pain. Plan ahead, research lots, don’t be afraid to travel even a 100 miles+ for the right car and get he car checked before you agree to buy…good luck!

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