Buying a used car can either be a fun or nightmare experience, depending on your point of view. How much you know about the used car buying process will also dictate whether you have a good or bad experience.
You would think that buying a used car is a pretty painless experience. After all, you find the car you want, and you pay for it, right? The ugly truth about buying used cars is that there is always someone out there that wants to scam the unsuspecting public.
That’s why it is important that you are a savvy shopper, and you know how to look out for the warning signs. Today’s blog post will tell you how to do just that. Here is what you need to know…
Researching running costs
Let’s say that you want to buy a used Audi R8 like the one shown in the photograph above. If all you wanted is to buy a car that is good on petrol and offers cheap insurance, an Audi R8 isn’t the right car for you!
It might surprise you to know that a lot of used car buyers neglect to do any thorough research on the models that interest them! These are the sorts of people that buy cars because they look nice more than anything else.
The World Wide Web is a great place to seek information about cars. For instance, the gov.uk website can tell you how much it will cost to tax your car, as well as its CO2 emissions. Motoring websites can also give good reviews on cars and tell you what problems to look out for.
Knowing how much it will cost to keep a car on the road is an important part of the used car buying process. Make sure it’s a factor you don’t forget about when you next buy one!
Going for test drives
Thanks to websites like eBay and AutoTrader, it’s now possible to buy cars over the Internet without even seeing them! I know of a guy that lives in Scotland about bought a used car online from southern England.
He had to fly down and then make the rest of his journey by public transport to collect his newly-bought car. He then drove it all the way back to his home in Scotland! His trip was uneventful, but can you imagine doing that and the car you just bought blowing a head gasket on the M25?
Even if you have driven the same model loads of times in the past, it is important to take the car you want to buy for a test drive. The last thing you want to do is end up with an old banger that’s worthless because of a dodgy engine and suspect brakes!
Reputable sellers will have no problem with potential buyers taking their cars for a test drive. In fact, they will insist on it. You can usually tell that you’re talking to a dodgy car salesperson when they come up with excuses as to why you can’t test drive their car.
Doing history checks
A seller might present you with a folder full of receipts. But it doesn’t prove that there isn’t anything dodgy about the car. If something’s wrong with the car, an unscrupulous seller won’t volunteer the information.
That’s why paying for a vehicle history check is a good idea. In the UK, you can do an HPI check on any used car that you buy. These checks will confirm the car’s details, such as registration number, make, model and colour.
Beyond that, it will tell you whether the car got reported stolen, written off or is owned by a finance company.
It’s a sad statistic that thousands of used car buyers end up getting ripped off with a dodgy motor. And it’s something they could have avoided by spending a few quid buying an HPI check!
Thanks to the wonders of technology, it’s possible to buy an HPI report on your smartphone! So if you’ve got an Apple iPhone or Samsung Galaxy, for example, you can check the status of any car that you’re standing in front of. Pretty amazing, don’t you think
If you buy a used car from a reputable dealer, they will have done an HPI check on the car you want to buy anyway. Still, for added peace of mind, you should ensure you do one yourself regardless of where you’re buying the car from.
Buying from private sellers at their homes
It’s no secret that you’re more likely to grab a bargain by getting a car from a private seller instead of a dealer. Private sellers have no overheads when it comes to selling their cars, and so they can afford to lower their prices for a quick sale.
Most private car sales go through without any issue, especially those sold via the World Wide Web. But there are the odd few where things don’t go according to plan. You can usually spot the first sign of trouble when the seller refuses to meet you at their home.
Even if they have a reason that sounds legitimate, I don’t recommend taking the risk. Especially if you are about to buy a car worth several grand! You should also be suspicious of private sellers that do meet you at their homes, but have a large, enclosed area full of cars.
These are often car dealers that pose as private sellers. They do this to avoid the legal obligations they have, such as doing thorough background and mechanical checks on the cars they drive.
There is little protection by law when you buy a car from a private seller. Cars are “sold as seen.” That means if your car’s engine blows up half a mile down the road from the seller, they have no obligation to put things right.
I hope the pointers in today’s blog post will help you to become a better used car buyer. Good luck with your next used car buy!
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