Save money on a used car
Whatever our budget, we all like to find the best deal when it comes to choosing our next car. Buying a used car can be a fantastic way of getting more for your money, considering brand new cars begin to lose value as soon as they’re driven off the forecourt.
Just remember when you are shopping for used cars, if a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. And without running the right vehicle history check, that appealing used car deal has the potential to leave you inadvertently out of pocket down the line. It’s also good to bear in mind that the older the car the more likely it is to rack up costs in future repairs and maintenance.
So before you start shopping, it’s useful to know what to watch out for when buying a used car, and how you might be able to save yourself some money. Below are our top money-saving tips for buying a used car.
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Check the car’s history
As mentioned before, you can often get a good deal when buying used instead of new. In fact, as soon as most used vehicles reach three years old you can often buy them for up to 50% cheaper.
However, there are some things you can, and should, do before you start venturing off for miles to view multiple used cars. A few simple checks can help you avoid wasting time and money driving around to unwittingly view what turn out to be dodgy or problematic used cars.
How did it start out in life?
The first thing you’ll want to check is whether the car you are considering is who it says it is. Does the colour in the photos or listing match what it states in the V5 logbook? Was the car imported? Has the registration plate ever changed from the original?
Checking the data in the V5c logbook against the seller’s listing is a great place to start. You can access this information as part of a comprehensive Car Guide vehicle check (or through the DVLA). All you need to know is the car reg and we can check all of the following for you:
- The date it was first registered
- SORN status
- DVLA tax check – the current vehicle tax rate (and when this expires)
- Date V5c last issued
- Type approval category
- The vehicle’s weight, engine size and fuel type and colour – that is, details about the car model itself
- Any plate or colour changes
- Detailed technical data
- The manufacturing year
- Emissions – the vehicle’s actual driving emissions level and status for Europe
Car Guide will also check whether the car has ever been imported or exported. Imported cars can end up costing you more in insurance premiums as well as causing problems in the garage, due to mechanical differences and less standard kit. UK diagnostic equipment is often incompatible which means you may not be able to get the car serviced properly. All of this means it is also likely to have a lower value if and when you come to sell the car on, so you may want to steer clear.
What’s the car’s story?
It’s quite possible for a used car to have had one careful owner from new, especially if it’s not very old. But there are also plenty of secondhand cars out there with a shadier past. In other words, it’s easy to get charmed only to be burned down the line. So how can you check where your dream car has been and what it’s gotten up to in its previous lives?
The V5c will give you some insight into the current and last registered keepers of the car, including how long they have each owned it. This can reveal some basic clues about the car’s history. However, what it won’t tell you are the more critical considerations like if the vehicle is stolen, has previously been written off, or has outstanding finance. All these things can end up costing you an awful lot more money in the long run.
If the used car you’ve bought turns out to be stolen, it’s likely to be repossessed with no financial recompense, leaving you car-less and having to find the money from somewhere to buy another one. Many of the free car checks that are available won’t tell you if a car has been stolen, but Car Guide will.
Similarly, if it turns out there’s still finance attached to your new used car, you’ll either end up being responsible for paying it off or having the car reclaimed by the finance company who technically still owns it. So save yourself a lot of heartache, agro and money with a comprehensive paid car check that tells you instantly whether or not the car you’ve got your eye on has any outstanding finance payments.
You’ll also want to check the car hasn’t been written-off by insurers. This isn’t always obvious by just looking at the vehicle. While a used car may look safe to drive, it could actually be in need of important repairs to make it safe, which will end up costing you. There is also a practice called ‘cut ‘n’ shut’ where two or more salvaged vehicles are put together to make what appears to be an original car. Not only is this highly dangerous, but it can also end up costing you a lot of money in additional repairs without realising why or losing the vehicle altogether if ‘cut ‘n’ shut’ status is discovered.
Car Guide’s comprehensive vehicle check can assess for all of these scenarios, whether the vehicle you are looking at has been stolen or scrapped, written off, or is ex-salvage. So you can not only save yourself from wasting precious time pursuing problematic used cars, but also avoid the expense of suddenly losing the car later down the line.
Our car check can also now tell you if the vehicle is unrecorded salvage or ex-taxi – which again will help you negotiate price or steer clear from it altogether, saving you money in the long term.
See into the car’s future (not just its past!)
It is generally accepted that older cars are more at risk of breakdowns and the general wear and tear that comes with age and increased mileage. But no two cars are alike. What about differences between makes and models, for example?
Based on the make, model, age and mileage, Car Guide’s innovative Vehicle Check can tell you about potential problems during the next 6 to 12 months. We show the upcoming repairs, servicing and how much this is going to cost. Using machine learning, our exclusive checking system will also accurately predict which components are likely to fail on the next MOT. You can then use this information either to give you leverage to negotiate a better price or help inform your decision on whether or not to buy the car at all.
If you are buying a used car you should always check the car’s history, whether it has outstanding finance, or it has been reported stolen or written off. A quick and comprehensive car check could save you time, money and potential headache should there be anything wrong with the car. Therefore it is the best investment you can make before buying a used car.
Car Guide offers the most comprehensive car check currently on the market. From providing information on potential repairs and checks through to helping you negotiate the best price, we’ll guide you through every step of the purchase. Our mission is to save you from a bad purchase by providing you with the information that matters the most when choosing a used car.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Online selling platforms such as Facebook Marketplace, Gumtree or eBay
- Buying a car without a logbook