Purchasing a used car can come with a lot of questions. Where does a buyer buy it from? When is it the best time to purchase one? Your Red Car has answered the eight most googled questions when it comes to purchasing a used car.
Where is the best place to buy a used car?
There are multiple options when it comes to buying a second-hand car. Whether it be online or from a trader or a dealership, the most important thing is to make sure that a seller is trustworthy.
There are pros and cons to buying from a private seller. Some sellers overvalue their cars, and cars sold privately won’t have been through a rigorous vehicle health check, like the ones sold at a dealership.
This means that a prospective buyer will need to be more switched on with the checks they carry out when they inspect, and test drive a car. They will need to bear in mind buying privately entitles them to less consumer rights than buying from a dealer meaning you could have no comeback if the car breaks down on the way home from buying it.
Franchises, dealerships and traders
Franchises, dealerships or traders are an easier place to start as buying privately often requires more car knowledge. Franchises are at the largest end of the spectrum and are dealerships that sell and specialise in single manufacturers vehicles, such as BMW. They usually sell both new and used cars. The bigger the business, the more resources they have, but also the more overheads, which will bump up the price of the vehicle they would be potentially buying.
Independent dealers can be small or large dealerships that sell used cars and have a large variety of vehicles. Car supermarkets are dealerships that keep hundreds of used cars. Also, auction houses could be an option but this is potentially the riskiest way of purchasing a used car as a potential customer wont get to inspect or drive the car prior.
How do you check a used car before you buy it?
When buying a used car, it is essential that a driver can view it in person and ask the seller all the necessary questions. They should also always take the car for a test drive. A potential buyer also needs to make sure that they are insured to do this. It’s also best to arrange to view the car in daylight, on a dry day to ensure they can spot any damage or marks.
DVLA’s free online vehicle information checker can confirm what the seller is telling a potential buyer against their own records. Vehicles need regular MOT tests by law to make sure they’re safe for the road. The motorist should check that MOT tests have been done regularly throughout the car’s history (cars over 3 years old need an MOT test every year). Check the MOT history of a car on GOV.UK for free.
It is also recommended that the potential buyer get a private history check on the car which will give them valuable information about serious problems the car might have. This can cost up to £20 - well worth the money.
It will be able to tell a driver if:
- the car has been reported stolen
- the seller still owes money on the car
- the car has previously been in a serious accident
- the car is showing the correct mileage
- the car has been written off, repaired and then returned to the road
What should you do after buying a used car?
After buying a used car, the driver will need to ensure that they already have car insurance in place that will allow them to drive the car home legally. They will also need to check the car has up-to-date road tax and if not, they will need to register for this too.
Once they have transported it home, the driver needs to familiarise themselves with their new car (including reading the owner’s manual thoroughly) and sort out breakdown cover to give them extra peace of mind.
A motorist needs to make sure they get the original (not a photocopy) of the log book (the V5C registration certificate) and the valid MOT test document. Never buy a car without the logbook. They will need to register for MOT reminders which are needed every three years by law. It is also advisable to take the car for a service at a garage to give it a once over.
When is the best time to buy a used car in the UK?
The best months to buy a used car are generally March and September. This is because these are the months when new registration plates are introduced, which increases the supply of used cars as owners look to purchase new models. A lot of people will part exchange their old cars for a new model during this time meaning dealerships can find themselves with an influx of used cars to sell. This could be a fantastic opportunity to get a good price.
In anticipation of the new number plates in March and September, some dealerships may clear out old stock to make way for new vehicles. To make space they may be willing to accept lower offers on used cars. It is also worth shopping for a used car during quiet periods, such as the end of the year near Christmas when money is being spent elsewhere. During the end of each quarter (March, June, September and December) dealers will be keen to hit their targets which means negotiating could be easier and deals may be available.
What should the maximum mileage be on a used car?
A car should be doing 10,000 and 12,000 miles per year, depending on the age of the vehicle. For example, if a car is four years old, 48,000 miles is seen as normal, but every vehicle is different. The total mileage on a used car can tell a driver exactly how far the vehicle has travelled and indicates how much wear and tear the vehicle has been through. That said, a vehicle with more miles than the average isn’t necessarily a warning sign, if the vehicle is well-maintained and kept in a good condition.
Why are used car prices increasing?
Used car prices are rising for two reasons. Firstly, because of the cost-of-living crisis and secondly because prices are still recovering from the pandemic. New cars are getting too expensive to buy, and so there are not enough used cars for the demand of customers who want them. Used car prices can fluctuate depending on market needs. Your Red Car has carefully selected only approved sellers to advertise their cars, so financing second-hand vehicles is a very cost-effective and safe way of purchasing a vehicle.
What is the most reliable used car?
The definition of a ‘reliable’ car will differ from person to person. For example, a driver that lives in a hilly, remote area will be looking for a different kind of second-hand car than someone who lives and drives in a city. All cars need to be reliable, but it also comes down to who will be driving the vehicle and what its main purpose is used for.
What are my rights when buying a used car from a dealer?
In the first 30 days, if a driver purchases a used car and finds that there was a fault with the vehicle, they are protected by the Consumer Rights Act of 2015. However, the driver will not be covered if they were informed that that particular fault existed, or the faults occurred as a result of their own actions. After 30 days, rights are reduced somewhat. If a fault is picked up after this period, a repair or partial refund can be offered by the seller. Anything that prevents a vehicle from working properly can be recognised as a fault, so the prospective driver must do thorough checks and research on the vehicle before it is purchased.
Denton Brock, Head of Your Red Car commented:
“A new car will depreciate as soon as you start driving it. This is not true to the same extent for used vehicles. The biggest benefit of purchasing a used car is the price. If budget is your priority, buying a second-hand car is your preference. As well as more choice, you may still be able to get some form of warranty when buying second-hand. When it comes to legalities, just ensure you purchase safely so you’re covered if anything goes wrong. Purchasing privately might seem like the way to get the best deal, but if things go wrong, you might not be covered, and that can be expensive.”