Tips for buying a second hand car

Money is tight, and times are tough. For many people this means dipping into the second-hand car market. It’s a scary experience for a lot of people, but if you follow these top tips, there’s every chance you can land yourself a reliable bargain!

Narrow down your options

If you are in the market for a second-hand car, the first thing you need to do is to know what you are looking for. If you narrow down your choices, then you don’t have to sift through hundreds, if not thousands of cars. Decide what you like in terms of size, design and manufacturer, and then take that information and research your choice down to three or four different makes and models of car.

By doing this you will make things easier when it comes to viewing and test driving vehicles. You can look at car reviews on the internet to get opinions from people who have owned these cars. Then you will be better informed about common complaints, faults and advantages.

Use the internet for research

The internet is a great resource, and you can find out all sorts of information to help you to choose the right car to buy. Find out about fuel consumption – look for urban and rural figures and bear in mind the sort of driving you are likely to do. You should also be able to find out the tax implications of the vehicle you choose, and of course car insurance costs. Get a good idea of costs by visiting one of the car insurance grouping websites, but if you really want to have a clear idea of what it is going to cost you then it might be worth getting a car insurance quote.

Is it legal?

These days, it is easier than ever before to make sure that the car you are buying is on the right side of the law. You can find various companies on the net that will do a HPI check on your vehicle in minutes. This will allow you to find out whether there is any outstanding finance on the vehicle – a financial hardship that actually passes to you if you become the owner.

Find the big car sites

Once you have selected a few potential vehicles to buy, it’s time to start looking. You can always check your local newspaper to have a look for local cars, but you are far more likely to come across a wider choice of suitable cars on the internet.

Using a site like Auto Trader is always a good idea, because although you will only want to search your local area, it will also allow you to conduct a national search for the make and model you are interested in. This gives you the chance to really understand the correct market value of the car. If you find fifty comparable vehicles in the country, it will give you a great idea of how much it should actually cost. You can then refine your search, so that it just returns vehicles in your local area.

Double check value

Another great way to double-check prices is to use a second-hand price guide website, like Parkers. Parkers lists all makes, models and trim levels from over twenty years ago, which means you can almost always find the exact vehicle you are looking for, and a valuation for the vehicle in a number of differing conditions.

Viewing the vehicle

Once you have selected some cars you are interested in buying, it is imperative that you test drive the vehicle that you are interested in. Firstly, make sure that you have adequate insurance for this, because getting a car insurance quote at a later date is not going to help if it ends up costing you a fortune. and secondly, if you don’t know too much about cars, it’s worth taking someone along with you that does. If you have a good relationship with your local mechanic, ask them to run a quick check over any potential car before buying. Arrange a fee with your mechanic in advance so you both know what to do and expect.

Under the bonnet check ups

There are a few things you can look out for yourself. Firstly, give the car a good run to make sure it settles down at a steady heat. All cars have different temperature gauge levels, but if the gauge does not move, or it increases when stationary, then you might want to walk away. Test all electronics including front and back windows, and keep an eye out for heavy patches of rust, particularly under wheel arches. Another good test to do is to hold a piece of paper over the exhaust pipe when the car is idling. If you end up with a wet piece of paper, this can show that moisture is getting into the engine, and could be a sign of a cracked or warped head gasket.

Invest in a warranty

It’s pretty much impossible to completely protect yourself from problem cars if you are buying on the second-hand market. Of course, following all the advice above is going to help you, but it doesn’t mean that you can rule out problems. One thing you can do to safeguard your investment is to buy a warranty. They’re not normally too expensive, even for a second-hand car, and could come in very handy if you have any major headaches!

There are no guarantees, but if you follow the advice above, then you are in with a good chance of picking up a bargain on the second-hand motor market. Take your time, take car, and walk away with a great motor!