Used car Lot
Credit: Image via crative commons at Flickr, from

With cost saving now high up the agenda for millions of households across the country, it’s perhaps not too surprising that people are taking an interest in what used cars have to offer. Buying a brand new model might well be tempting – particularly when you it gleaming on the dealer’s forecourt – but it’s simply not an affordable option for too many of us at the moment. When it comes to buying a second-hand car, there’s plenty to consider. As with any major purchase, getting the best deal is essential.

According to an in-depth guide from Auto Trader, one of the first things you should do is determine precisely how much you have to spend on a used car. By setting yourself a clear limit from the outset, you’re better placed to avoid the temptation of shelling out a bit more than you’d originally intended. You should also consider what your current car is worth, and whether you can part-exchange it with a dealer and put that money towards buying a second-hand motor. The article also notes that in some cases you may need to explore used car finance to cover the cost of the purchase, so you’ll also need to look at the various options open to you in that department.

Working out precisely what sort of car you’re looking to buy is also crucial. It could be that you’ve got a large family so need a people carrier, or perhaps you’re just looking for a little three-door run-around to get you from A to B. By determining exactly what sort of car you’re looking for at the start can make the process of searching simpler. You should also consider sort of running costs you can afford – so make sure you know how much it will cost to fuel, tax and insure the vehicle before you go ahead and buy it.

One of the best things about buying a second-hand car over a brand new one is that they don’t tend to depreciate in value as rapidly as new vehicles. According to, new cars will lose between 30 and 60 percent of their initial value in the first few years, with some models more affected by depreciation than others. Perennial favourites such as the Mini or the Fiat 500, the price comparison website notes, tend to be better at retaining their value than less fashionable cars. Eco-friendly vehicles, like the Toyota Prius and the Honda Civic Hybrid, also tend to be strongly in demand. However, any car which has been poorly maintained is likely to be at risk of rapid depreciation.

Make sure that the car is mechanically sound, ideally you want a clear statement as to what has been checked by the dealer, but you still need to take the car for a test drive, taking careful note of the sound of the engine, have a look under the hood, and be alert for any signs of fluid leak.

When buying a used car, however, you should think about how much mileage you intend to get out of it. Second-hand vehicles which have been well looked after should provide at least a few years of reliable service, and it’s worth doing a spot of research into the dependability of the various manufacturers. While we’re on the subject, a recent study from What Car?, and Warranty Direct named Japanese car makers Honda, Toyota and Lexus as the most reliable used car brands, although this may obviously be a contentious subject.