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3 Golden Rules for Buying a Used Car

3 Golden Rules of Used Car Buying

1. Origin Matters: "A country makes either good wine or good cars. It cannot do both". Some countries produce more reliable cars than others.

2. Quality over Prestige: "You can't buy caviar for the price of Cornflakes". Don't fall into the trap of buying the 'best' car in your budget based on prestige. A well-maintained vehicle of a less prestigious brand might serve you better than a budget-stretching luxury model.

3. Avoid Early Birds: “Don't be the first guy to walk over the brand new bridge". Early versions of engines or gearboxes can be riddled with issues. Opt for well-established models with proven reliability.

In a recent podcast, the excellent Pete Matthew of meaningfulmoney interviewed Dave O’Sullivan about buying a used car in the UK. Dave has been in the motor trade for over 25 years and in that time sold everything from Minis to Rolls Royce’s. He also owns a MOT station and car repair garage and has seen thousands of broken, unreliable, and downright horrid cars, as well as some very good ones over the years.

To share his decades of knowledge and experience in the car trade, Dave has written the excellent ‘Used Car Buyers Guide’ and makes it available to all, free of charge.

Here is a short review of the great information provided by Dave.

Buying a Used Car – The Right Way

Your car purchase might just be one of the most significant financial decisions you will ever make, aside from buying a home. It is an exciting journey that can quickly become overwhelming with the myriad of choices out there. So, whether you are a seasoned car enthusiast or a first-time buyer, Dave’s guide is tailored to help you navigate the road to motoring bliss while keeping your finances in check.

First, Identify Your Needs and Wants:

Before you dive into the car-buying process, decide exactly what you need and want in your next ride. Do you need a compact car, an automatic, or something with seven seats?

Separate these requirements from your 'nice-to-haves' like leather interiors, top-of-the-line tech, and snazzy gadgets.

Also, consider vehicle emissions, especially if you are in or near areas with stringent emissions zones. With many major cities expanding their Ultra Low Emission Zones (ULEZ), this could save you money in the long run.

The Finances:

Once you have your car requirements, it is time to tackle the budget question. Do you have the cash ready, or will you be trading in your existing vehicle?

Consider different ways to sell your car, whether through private sale, dealership trade-in, or specialised companies like We Buy Any Car.

Financing is an option too, with choices like Hire Purchase (HP) and Personal Contract Purchase (PCP), each has its pros and cons. A better option could be to open a savings account dedicated to your future car purchases, in this time of high interest rates, saving is a powerful tool.

Where to Buy:

Next, you need to decide where to buy your used car. Private sales might offer the best prices but come with higher risk. Car auctions, unless you're a pro, are better left alone.

Independent car sales could be your golden ticket, offering lower prices and personalised service. Car supermarkets are known for their variety but might lack the personal touch. Main dealers are stress-free but typically pricier.

Seek and You Shall Find:

The Autotrader website is your best friend when searching for a used car. It not only lists a wide range of options but also allows you to refine your search based on specific criteria.

Consider widening your search radius, as this could lead to better deals. Don't forget to look at online auction sites, specialist websites for unique cars, and even check local dealerships. Your dream car might be just around the corner.

Know Your Market

The guide provides a detailed breakdown on how to conduct thorough research when buying a used car. It advises readers to start with focused online research, emphasising the importance of safety ratings, reliability surveys, emission zone criteria, and online forums for specific car models.

The guide stresses the significance of scrutinising sellers, both dealers and private individuals, including checking their backgrounds, the types of cars they sell, and their credibility.

It offers practical tips for phone inquiries, such as asking about the car's availability, service history, keys, potential issues, and insurance coverage.

Inspector Gadget

Next follows a comprehensive guide to inspecting and purchasing a used car. It covers various aspects of the inspection process, such as checking the exterior, interior, engine, and driving performance.

The guide emphasises the importance of thorough inspection, including looking for signs of accidents, checking for leaks, examining the engine, and ensuring all electronic components work properly.

It also outlines steps for checking paperwork like the V5C and service history, scrutinising invoices, and verifying the authenticity of service stamps.

Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours!

Finally, the guide offers tips on negotiating the price with the seller, including framing the negotiation, considering additional services or repairs, and paying partially with a credit card for added protection.

It also covers the buyer's rights under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, including the process for seeking refunds or resolving.

There you have it, folks! With this guide in hand, you will navigate the used car market like a pro. Thanks to Dave O’Sullivan, with his ultimate ‘Used Car Buyers Guide’, you will soon be behind the wheel of a reliable, budget-friendly set of wheels. Happy car shopping!


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