Things every second-hand car buyer should know

There’s a lot to be said for buying second-hand cars. OK, so used vehicles might not have that new car smell or be quite as shiny as motors that have just rolled off the production line, but they can save you a tidy sum. Given the fact that new cars typically lose around 40 per cent of their value in the first year alone, it can make much more financial sense to opt for second-hand vehicles. However, if you’re to bag yourself a bargain in this market, you’ll need to do your homework first. Here are a few things that every used car buyer should know.

How much cars cost to run

It’s easy to obsess about the sale price of second-hand cars and to forget that it’s not only this initial sum that will affect your finances. Sure, the amount of money you shell out for the vehicle in the first place is important, but you’ll also need to consider running costs. Before you commit to making a purchase, it’s a good idea to get insurance quotes from specialist brokers like Chill. You should also pay attention to car tax rates. For vehicles registered on or after 1 March 2001, tax bands are based on fuel type and CO2 emissions.

Consider fuel efficiency too. Especially if you use your car a lot, this will have a major impact on your ongoing driving costs.

How to spot the telltale signs of clocking

The majority of car sellers are honest, but it’s always important to be on your guard against dodgy deals. One trick that criminals sometimes try is called ‘clocking’ and it involves winding the odometers of high-mileage cars back to make it seem as though they’ve travelled fewer miles than they actually have. Even the digital odometers featured in modern cars are susceptible to this underhand practice.

When you’re examining a vehicle, check that its mileage roughly corresponds with its general appearance and age. Bear in mind that most cars tend to average approximately 10,000 miles a year. Telltale signs that a car has been driven a lot include a shiny, worn steering wheel and worn pedal rubbers. Also, chips made by stones on the bonnet, bumper and grille can be a sign that a car has made a lot of motorway journeys.

Pay close attention to the mileages recorded on MOT certificates and service records too as this should help to confirm the figure shown on the odometer.

How to get the best possible deal

It can be hard to work out exactly how much used cars are worth, so if you want to ensure you get a good deal, you’ll need to do some research. The best approach is to head online to see what similar cars are selling for. If you decide to make an offer on a vehicle, start with a sum at the lower end of the range you’ve found through your research. Set an upper limit in your mind before you enter into negotiations as well. This should prevent you from getting carried away in the heat of the moment and agreeing to a price that’s too high.

By making sure you’re in the know when you’re searching for that perfect second-hand car, you can remove much of the stress and risk from the process.

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