Thousands of second-hand vehicles are sold every single day throughout the UK. Whether you have your heart set on a classic vintage car, a renovation project, or simply need something affordable, the used car market is a great place to search for your new set of wheels.
Due to the nature of the used car industry, you can snap up some of the best bargains around. But ensuring you get what you pay for can be more of a challenge. So to make your life easier, we’ve put together a helpful used car buying guide to ensure you get the most out of 2021.
The effects of COVID-19
After months of uncertainty and fear running rife throughout all of our daily lives, the used car industry is starting to reopen with a few extra precautions to keep everyone safe during these troubling times. You’ll notice that social distancing measures have been put in place, as well as an increase in disinfecting each vehicle after viewings and test drives have taken place.
In many ways, there has never been a better time to purchase a used car. Fewer customers are allowed on dealership premises so that you can get more out of your visit to the showroom, forecourt and more. With that in mind, you may have to plan your visit to the dealership or garage more thoughtfully than before. For instance, turning up on the day may require longer waiting times than if you pre-book your visit.
For private sales, seller discretion may look a bit more different. But if safety is a concern for you, make sure you speak to the seller first to ensure the necessary precautions such as disinfecting and masks are in place before you meet face to face.
Do your research
Regardless of the pandemic, researching the used car market before making any buying decisions should be a number one priority. That way, you can get a feel for:
- Average selling price
- How long a car has been on the market for – if it’s been there for a while, you may be able to drive a hard bargain with the seller, simply to take it off their hands!
- Other drivers experiences such as driveability, reliability, and other pros and cons
- How much general maintenance, fuel, and servicing will cost
- Get a fuller picture of a vehicle’s MOT history
The more you can find out about the car that interests you, the more power it gives you with the seller. If there are noticeable red flags before you intend to buy, you can move on to a different car. What’s more, knowing average prices and how long a vehicle has been on the market will help bring costs down later on.
Look closely at the details
It’s all well and good viewing a car online, but you never get the complete picture until you can see and touch it for yourself. Any surface damage, engine issues and odd smells can all be hidden virtually after all.
When you view a car, make sure you give it a once-over. Look for any paint blemishes, scratches, rust and chips in the windscreen. If the seller is covered, ask for a test drive. That way, you can get a feel for how well the vehicle handles on the road and listen out for any odd noises, how well the brakes work and more.
Any sale, regardless of whether you are buying directly from a private seller, auction or dealership, you can walk away if you are unhappy at any point. So make sure you ask to see the service history and take a look at the smaller details like the mileage on the clock to see if there are any discrepancies.
Despite common belief, financing isn’t just an option for buying a brand new car. Whether you want to top up what you have already put aside or need a complete finance package to cover your vehicle’s entire cost, there are several options available to you.
Typically you are expected to pay a lump sum deposit (usually 10%) before you start repaying your loan through low monthly instalments. However, it’s the quickest and most reliable way of securing a vehicle, and your application can often be accepted within minutes. Whether you would prefer a Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) loan or borrow directly from the bank, several different packages are available.
With any credit agreement, some specific terms and conditions apply that you need to stick to until you have made your final payment. Then, the car is entirely yours.
If you have been rejected for credit in the past, there are a range of specialist lenders online that will assist you to finance a car with bad credit history.
Dealerships and warranty
One of the most appealing aspects of buying a used car is that the original owner has taken the most significant financial hit. The 15-35% depreciation of value has already been accounted for, and if you are lucky, the car you buy may still be covered by the original manufacturer’s warranty.
If you decide to go down the financing route, there may be some additional perks, such as servicing and warranty included. So make sure you check out all the finer print before signing on the dotted line.
Like any good salesperson, even the used car dealership may try to flog you a bunch of add-ons that sound appealing at the time but are entirely unnecessary. So be prepared to say no, and look elsewhere for a better deal outside of the dealership if you can if tyre protection is something you want!
Embrace the art of haggling
Back in the day, haggling and negotiating the best price was one of your greatest tools in securing the hottest deals in town. Unfortunately, with more and more businesses embracing the digital age, it has become a lost art.
People are afraid to ask for a better price, regardless of it being entirely acceptable during a sale. You wouldn’t offer the full asking price for a house straight away, after all. So why should your car be any different?
Using all of your research, observational skills and pure nerve will ensure you get the most affordable deal and make sure you spend within your limits.
Buying a used car in 2021 doesn’t have to be stressful. With a few top tips under your sleeve, you will secure yourself the best deal on whatever car you choose. So what are you waiting for?