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When Buying A Used Car What Should I Look For?

We offer some advice and tips for buying used cars

If you've made the decision to buy a used car, you'll be excited to check out the used cars available both online and on forecourts around the country. But how do you make sure you'll get the best deal when buying a second hand car? And how do you know if a used car is in good condition?

With a little bit of preparation, you can search for your ideal wheels and buy a used car with confidence. Armed with some handy advice and tips for buying used cars, you'll be sure to get a great deal!

Top 5 Tips For Buying Used Cars

  • Consider the condition
    When buying a used car, either online or in person, make sure to check the overall condition of the vehicle beforehand. If the bodywork, paintwork and interior are visually well presented, it's usually a good indication that the car has been well looked after and serviced.
  • Check the service history
    Ask to see the service book (stamped) or the online record of regular servicing. If a VAT registered garage or dealer has serviced the car, then they will have stamped and dated the book and recorded the mileage at time of service. You can then check the odometer to see that the mileage fits and is accurate.
  • Ask to see an HPI check
    This is a check run by a professional company that checks for outstanding finance on the vehicle, whether it has been written off or appears on the insurance register, verifies the mileage and other key data that will help you work out if buying your chosen used car is worth it. (HPI means hire purchase investigation, but checks much more than that now). Get an instant HPI Check® now
  • Check whether the car has had a multipoint safety check recently
    It's important to check whether the car has had a recent multipoint safety check. The MOT and service may have been carried out a while ago, but the safety check will double check that the vehicle is roadworthy. You can check the MOT status of the car on this link.
  • Check the car has a warranty
    It's important to check that the car will be sold with a warranty or some sort of guarantee if anything subsequently goes wrong. A 3 month warranty is the legal minimum that the car should be sold with. Warranties vary, but you need something that covers the major mechanical (expensive) components, such as the gear box and engine.

What is considered a good mileage for a used car?

The 'average' mileage of a car driven for private use would be about 7,500 to 10,000 miles per year. To calculate what can be considered good mileage for a used car, you take the average miles per year that the car has driven. So, if a 3 year old car (a car with its date of first registration 3 years ago) has done 40,000 miles, it is averaging over 13,000 miles a year, which is a little high. Anything with a very high mileage may have been used as a company car at some point, so do check its former use. Anything with a very low mileage may not have been driven very much, so check it has been regularly serviced to maintain its condition. This need not put you off buying the used car, but just ask a few more questions - you're in the driving seat!

What paperwork do I need to receive when buying a used car?

When buying a used car, be sure to check that you have all the relevant paperwork you need as the new owner of the vehicle. You'll need the 'log book' or V5 document to prove transfer of ownership, the service book, and the warranty documents. As the new driver of the vehicle, you will also need to arrange car insurance and consider breakdown and recovery. Good deals can be had from comparison websites such as Go Compare, Money Saving Expert or Compare The Market.

Can I buy a used electric car yet?

So far, it's early days for lots of electric cars to be available as used cars. However, there are some demonstrators and pre-registered bargains to be had and plenty of hybrid cars too. As time goes on, more electric cars will become available as used cars and buying a used electric car will become more accessible.

What are the advantages of buying a used car from a dealership?

We are trying to keep our blog as unbiased as possible, but we do feel that there are several advantages to consider when buying a used car from a dealer!

  • Bespoke vehicle funding packages - dealers usually have good relations with several vehicle finance companies and have manufacturer recommended and supported finance available. You tend to get greater consumer protection with a vehicle finance agreement as there are different rules to a bank loan. Be sure to check out all your options before deciding on the best finance product that works for you. We have FCA accredited business managers in branch who can help if you need us.
  • Flexible finance agreements - PCP (Personal Contract Purchase) agreements are available, subject to status, the age of the customer and age of the vehicle. During or at the end of such agreements you can switch to another used or new vehicle as one of the options. Hire Purchase (HP) is another option to make budgeting for your used car a little easier. Be sure to take advice on what will work for you. Only FCA accredited staff are able to help with this as they have been trained in the Financial Conduct Authority rules and regulations. There are several staff in each branch who have received this training.
  • Additional incentives through the approved used manufacturer programmes - car manufacturer approved used programmes have additional add-ons that help with the ongoing ownership of the vehicle. For example, you will get the outstanding warranty left on the vehicle; in the case of Kia and SsangYong they have 7 year warranties, so buying a 3 year old car means you have 4 years warranty left as the new owner. All manufacturers will make sure you have at least one year's warranty with their approved used cars, usually more. Often this is coupled with roadside assistance cover as part of the deal. Warranty packages can also be extended for an additional charge. Honda currently have a 5 year service package sold with their new cars that stays with the vehicle on sale, so you could snap up a used Honda with this package still running.
  • Exchange policies - most franchises offer a 30 day, 1,000 mile exchange policy, meaning that if you have a problem, such as the vehicle doesn't fit in your garage, or your kayak won't squeeze in, then you can exchange it for another vehicle of the same or higher value.
  • One Stop Shop - in a dealership you have a team of staff supporting your purchase. So, for example, the sales executive knows all the details of the used cars for sale, the administrator can carry out all the paperwork, road tax and registration for you, the business manager can advise on finance packages, and the technicians can service and maintain your used car as part of the aftercare. They have all been trained and accredited by our manufacturer brands.
  • Top Quality Used Cars - we don't sell anything that doesn't meet our or our manufacturer programme's standards. Our reputation as a quality used car sales outlet is paramount and our stock selection is carefully managed. Our approved used car schemes through our manufacturer brands require us to prepare cars for sale in line with their standards, if necessary replacing components only with genuine parts.
  • Aftercare options - we have service and maintenance plans to help you budget for monthly payment of the ongoing cost of your vehicle ownership.
  • Part-exchange is welcomed - you can trade-in your current vehicle, whatever its make or model, against the cost of your used vehicle purchase, be it on finance or outright purchase. Get a free online part-exchange valuation here.
  • Clear pricing and price match - no need to negotiate on price, our online listing and forecourt prices are the same, priced competitively in line with current market trends. We can price match identical deals locally (subject to terms and conditions).
  • Genuine accessories fitted - We can fit genuine branded accessories to your used car, such as tow bars for example, that are made to fit your make and model correctly.

In summary - buying a used car from a dealer group such as ours gives you a good used car, for a good price, with a good value deal and no hassle - just peace of mind.

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