Buying a used car – best choice pointers

Buying a used car – best choice pointers


There is a robust market demand for used cars for many common sense reasons:

  • you save money,
  • cars depreciate so quickly that it isn’t worth buying new, anyway.
  • you can get a good deal on anything – whether it’s a runabout or a dream vehicle.

Let’s be honest though; no-one really is completely comfortable with a used car salesman. You kind of expect them to sell you the bad end, or at least try to. So when going into a used car dealership you need to be fully armed and prepared and I recommend you check out some tips before.

Here’s what you can expect at the dealership:

A very slick, insistent, persistent salesman trying to reach his sales target, who is probably an expert in almost-hypnotic NLP persuasion techniques.

How do you resist, but manage to get the best deal, despite this?

All  dealerships seem to make this promise: top quality used cars, guaranteed! – so it’s difficult to choose. However, the first specific buyer beware alarm is this: a sign outside the door which says – “no refund and sold as seen”. Eliminate all those dealerships from your list, immediately.

Your best arm and armour is to go prepared with the right questions and the right attitude. Your  objective is simply to spend the least money possible on a used car which  is worth owning (works and is functional according to your needs), and to minimise the inherent risks in buying second hand.

Here is a checklist:

  1. Year old cars are a good option. The market value of a year old car will have depreciated rapidly in a year, but the condition and running value is still very high – almost new you could say. Luxury models don’t have the same depreciation factor after a year though.

2.Investigate which models and makes are the cheapest to run and maintain, while still being efficient.  A smaller vehicle usually fits this description, but you need to decide whether you just want a runaround, or whether you need a more hardy long- distance solution.

  1. A lot of people swear by diesel over petrol. Yes, the fuel is a little more economical, but the car is also more expensive. You need to weight the pros and cons carefully.
  1. A manual vehicle is less expensive than an automatic. However, an automatic is designed to be more fuel efficient over the long -term, and is so much more comfortable to drive.
  1. If you’re set on finding something more technologically advanced because you’re looking for style and modern efficiency, hybrids have been around long enough for you to find a good second hand deal. They will definitely carry a higher price tag though.

6.Taxes, taxes, taxes in a “green-conscious world”! A car with high CO2 emissions will carry a higher road tax. Sometimes it’s worth buying a model which is emission-free, and not pay those taxes at all. Weigh up the payoff.

  1. Smaller cars also carry smaller insurance premiums.Each vehicle fits into a specific insurance group rating – easy to check up online.
  1. Believe it or not,there is a right and wrong time to buy a used car. In the dealership world salesmen are pressurised to meet targets according to a bonus system, usually on a quarterly basis. So buying at the end of March, June, September and December, at an off-peak time of the week, when there’s time to haggle, is always the best strategy.

Private sales are different. There you have to watch the market for whether the auto prices are on an incline or decline – and obviously, buy in a decline period.

  1. Analyse exactly what your specific needs are. You don’t want to impulse buy a sports car when you have a large family!
  1. Analyse all the costs – upfront and running – and decide whether a finance plan is really the best option or not.
  1. There are many types of finance plans. What is sure, is that with all of them you will pay more in the end, and also end up holding a stressfull millstone – which is the nasty nature of credit, isn’t it? What you should really avoid is a plan which allows the lender to appropriate your vehicle if payments are not met timeously.
  1. Fuel consumption will be one of your biggest running costs, so choose fuel efficient model. Do some research online.
  1. Focus on the haggling points:
  • ask for a freebie, even if it’s just floor mats. Why not?
  • if a car has alredy been discounted, this is an invitation to haggle further.
  • salesmen haggle with silence. It’s a ploy to get you nervous so that you sign in a hurry. Turn the tables around and ask for a further discount!
  • don’t make an immediate commitment. Just walk away- they’ll be quick to get back to you, and you’ll be in a stronger position to negotiate.
  • focus on any flaws; even the smallest scratch is a reason for a further discount.
  • feel uncomfortable doing these things? Don’t – they don’t!
  1. Have a checklist handy to inspect the car. Take your time and don’t be pressurised:
  • Mileage
  • General condition
  • Poor repair work
  • Engine
  • Radio and gadgets
  • Lights
  • Does it look very sad? Trust your own eyes and common sense judgement
  • Tyres
  1. When you take the car for a test run, make sure you’re insured. Specifically test the following:
  • test the car on different kinds of road and weather conditions
  • stop suddenly to test the brakes
  • check brake and clutch functions
  • are the bonnet, doors and boot functional and easy to use?
  • is the car balanced when you drive, does it drive smoothly?
  • is there enough boot and passenger space?
  • do a suspension check
  • does it make strange noises?
  1. Check the comfort factors:
  • comfort behind the wheel
  • space for a child car set
  • enough boot space
  • doors etc which are easy to manipulate
  1. Play the dealers off against each other and let them know that you’ve checked online prices as well. Be specific with your data.

19.When buying privately, go to the sellers home-you’ll get a better idea about who they are. Public places are too anonymous, and the seller can scam you and disappear without a trace.

 So when going into a used car dealership you need to be fully armed and prepared and I recommend you have some experts look at it before.

This is a checklist, not a failsafe list. It’s always possible to be scammed. If you buy a vehicle in good faith, pay a reasonable price and then if it just doesn’t work after a short time, there is legal recourse.  Your protection depends on where you bought it- from a dealership, on an auction, etc. You can check this up online.

This is not also not a comprehensive checklist – just some salient reference points. The most prudent thing would to be to sit down and come up with your own ideas as well; do some further research, chat with some friends who have been through the same experience. Keep your objective in mind, and keep it polite, but be that tiger – because you can expect the dealer to be!