Three Key Tips for Buying a Second-Hand Car

Buying a used car is usually an excellent way to keep household costs down, where the showroom price for brand-new cars can often be eye-watering. But with an ongoing shortage of electronics components, new car manufacture has ground to a halt – and as a result, second-hand car prices have risen significantly. Still, there are savings to be made. How should you approach getting the best deal on a used vehicle?

Start With Your Budget

This tip is ultimately true of any major purchasing decision you have to make, and is of crucial importance to your used car hunt. Any car you buy is not merely the up-front retail cost of purchase; there are myriad other ongoing, long-term and emergency costs attributed with car ownership, from tax and insurance to maintenance costs and emergency breakdown servicing. One useful way to budget for your new car is to consider the ‘10-15% rule’. 

The rule dictates that your car’s costs should amount to no more than 15% of your annual salary. How much you’d like to spend is something else entirely – for example, if cars and driving are your hobbies, you can justify spending much more of your disposable income on a vehicle you will get a lot of enjoyment from. But for those in the market for a household or commuter vehicle that doesn’t impact finances or savings too much, 15% of your salary is a great benchmark.

Consider Buying from a Dealer

Conventional wisdom dictates that private sellers are where you find the best deals for second-hand vehicles. However, this may not actually be the case, for a number of reasons. Firstly, private listings come with additional risk; the car you buy may not be as advertised, and expensive issues could crop up shortly after sale. Secondly, private sellers may be less amenable to haggling, and can often set prices at an artificially inflated high despite the actual worth of a given model.

Meanwhile, buying from a used car dealer comes with a range of benefits over private sales. Dealerships will often check over vehicles before selling, ensuring that issues are well-telegraphed in listings. They can also offer warranty, meaning any servicing costs within a period of time following the purchase are covered by the dealership.

Get a Test Drive

You should not follow through on any used vehicle purchase without getting some time behind the wheel first. Even where dealerships will flag up known issues or recent problems, only driving the vehicle can reveal its health to you. Use your test drive to listen to the engine, and feel for any grinding in the clutch. You should also use this time to see how you feel about the car’s handling. Given you’ll be driving it daily, you may as well choose a car that’s fun to drive!




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