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Advice on buying a second hand car

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I'm looking to buy a second hand car (which will be my first car) but I've no idea about what to look for. \
What is a good mileage?
How can I tell if a car is good value?
What things specifically should I be aware of?
Modified 3 years ago
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Sophie  Lowrey
1 1343
@KTC, I figured that the best way to get advice was to look to forums and see what other everyday people advise.

A few areas that have come up over and over:
> buy from a dealer that has a reputation to protect as opposed to buying off gumtree etc. If something goes seriously wrong in the first six months, that they should have been aware of, you have legal protection in the Sale of Goods Act.

> Make sure you have done all the calculations i.e road tax, insurance, fuel budgeting & maintenance. Smaller engine sizes can reduce some of these costs but also look at CO2 emissions as they effect the price of road tax.

> bargain with the seller. They want to sell the car and never expect to get the price they ask for. You could try asking them to pay for 12 months tax for example, or fit some new(er) tyres. If you don't ask, you won't be offered anything.

In terms of mileage, the consensus is that 12,000 miles per year is a healthy number so if the car is 4 year old you wouldn't want to buy it with anything more than 48,000 miles on the clock.

And in terms of knowing whether or not a car is good value, it would be a good idea to take your time and shop around. Once you have decided on the make and model of the car you want you can start comparing cars, seeing what they typically go for and from there you'll be able to make a sound judgement call.

Also the money saving expert link attached is a really useful article talking you through the steps involved in buying a new car.

3 years ago
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Stefan Morariu
1 155
Buying a used car is more challenging than buying a new car, because buying a used car takes more effort than buying a new car, since the condition and usage details of the car have to be verified before purchase.

Some basic factors that you must decide on before you start looking at cars are as follows:

Start with the obvious. Checking the car's engine is first and foremost. Take a mechanic along when you look at the available options. The number on the odometer, by itself, might not indicate the extend of wear and tear to an engine.

Take the cars you like for a test drive. If you're an experienced driver, this will help detect any obvious problems. Pay attention to suspension, ease of driving, noises from the engine, apart from the obvious such as steering, brakes and gears.

Also, some drivers feel at ease with certain cars for reasons that might not be apparent. A test drive will help in making sure that a car meets your requirements. Again, it's advisable to let your mechanic tag along on the test drive as it never hurts to get a second opinion.

With a bit of luck, you can find a car that has been well maintained. Even if you have to spend a little effort and time, hunt around for a vehicle that has been treated well.

It is a safer bet to go for a car from a manufacturer with established service networks and dealers. In the long run, it will be easier, and cheaper, to get the car serviced and buy spare parts.

Moreover, authorised dealerships often offer a warranty on certified used cars. Avoid models that have gone out of production to avoid problems with getting spare parts. Also, older cars are more likely have maintenance issues.

Do go through the car's service log. This will tell you whether the car has been serviced at regular intervals and, more importantly, if it has been involved in accidents or has had a major mechanical fault. A thorough service log indicates how well the car has been maintained.

After you have done your research, it's time to check the documents. These include the original registration papers (RC book), a valid Pollution Under Control (PUC) certificate, insurance papers and tax tokens. You should not buy a car unless all of the above can be provided by the previous owner.

Once you've established that everything is to your satisfaction, negotiate a deal. Be confident of the price of the car when bargaining with the dealership. Negotiate hard for a discount in the used car market. Of course, do have an idea about a fair price that you are willing to pay.

On the flip side, if the dealer volunteers a discount that is too good to be true, then double check the car and the documents. If you do suspect that something is wrong, do not hesitate to withdraw from the deal, irrespective of the dealer's sales pitch. This is a long-term buy, so choose carefully and complete the transaction only after you are completely satisfied.

Happy Purchasing!!!
Updated 3 years ago
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