Tips and Hints for Buying a Used Car

Tips and Hints for Buying a Used Car

Most people who buy a used car aren't worried about the brand. They want a reliable car that's got enough space and is within their budget. The biggest worry with buying a used car is buying something that's plagued with problems and will cost you money to keep on the road. You need to research the type of cars that will work for you, plan a realistic budget that covers the running cost as well as the purchase price and be willing to compromise when you search online for your next car.

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How much do you have to spend? Let's start by figuring out how much your current car is worth. Whether you exchange that with the dealer when you pick up your latest car or sell it separately, the more you get for it, the more you can spend on the next car. Use Kelly Blue Book or a similar service to get an idea of your car's value. While you're there, why not check out the sort of cars you'll be able to afford with the budget you're planning? As a rule of thumb, don't spend more than 20 percent of your monthly salary on your car repayments.


This is the fun part. Whether you check online or visit dealers, looking at what cars are available within your price range is normally a lot of fun. If it's not and you realize there's not enough in your budget to get the car you need, review your finances again or consider keeping your current car. Do those sensible things at this stage. Don't try and decide whether you can up your budget after test driving a car you love and while you're sat in front of a salesman who's all too eager to sell you a car.

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Figure Out What You Want

You know your budget, you know what's available, so now is the time to work out what you need. Do you want a practical family car or something a little sportier? Do you need a big trunk, or can you buy a smaller car and make the best of the available space? Who will drive the car and where will it be driven? Is it for work, in which case, you might want something that's comfortable to spend time in on a long drive? Is it for driving around town or mainly on the highway? Cars are very adaptable now but if you drive on tight streets and into narrow parking lots, you should consider a smaller like a Ford Fiesta. This is the time to think about the sort of journeys you make and the sort of car that will best suit your needs.

When to Buy

Dealers are always happy to sell you a car but they're happiest at certain times of the year, so you'll get the best deals during March, June, September, and December. Think of the purchase from the dealer's point of view and you'll get a great deal. They'll be happy to sell a convertible during the winter months so will be open to a deal. When your city is hosting a motor show is another great time to buy. A lot of new cars are sold while motor shows are on which puts a lot of used cars into the market in a hurry. Take advantage of that by haggling over the price, and you should get a bargain.

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To Consider Before Your Purchase

You should consider buying online. Sites like eBay Motors and CarMax offer great deals on all types of cars.

Our Notes

  • If you live near a neighboring state where cars can be bought cheaply, why not buy a car from out of state?
  • If you buy from a dealer rather than a private seller, you’ll get a warranty and the car will have been checked over and serviced prior to sale.

What Do They Say on Other Sites

“There's no real guarantee of reliability, especially not over the next 10 years; regular servicing and proper maintenance will help, and it's something to check for having been carried out in the first few years of its life. Get an third party or extended warranty if you want some piece of mind.” (W Mittens on Mumsnet)

“I generally tend to do all of my research up front and then put together a short list of potential cars. Once I have 5+ that fit the criteria I ring round every dealer to express and interest and to ask politely if there is any movement on the price.” (Technotropic on Mumsnet)

Any thoughts? Let us know your comments!

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