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Pre-Loved Perks: Why It Pays to Buy Used Cars

October 3, 2014

If your budget’s tight – a used car is the way to go. With cars suffering from rapid depreciation, there are major savings to be had on used cars of all ages. However, buying a used car comes with its own difficulties. Our fool proof guide will keep you out of trouble and ensure you find not only a good deal but also a reliable set of used wheels.
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Featured Expert: Used car expert, Vlad Samarin of Samarins.com shares some wisdom with us when it comes to looking for a reliable used car.

Do some research on reliability and fuel economy of the car model you want to buy. It takes 20-30 minutes to Google gas mileage, reliability ratings and common problems, but you can save thousands.

Your best bet is a 3-5 year-old used car with all the regular maintenance records and good reliability reputation. In the long-term, it’s worth paying a little more for a well-maintained vehicle in good mechanical condition.

Test drive more cars to compare. If you want a used Toyota Corolla, test drive three of them and you will immediately know which one’s better. Have the car you picked inspected by a car-savvy friend or a mechanic.

For more useful advice when hunting for a second-hand vehicle, check out Samarins.com.

Taking advantage of depreciation

The moment a car drives off the showroom forecourt, or is even registered for the first time, it can suffer from an instant decline in value. In the automotive industry, a premium is put on ‘newness’, meaning you can stand to make big savings when buying used – even if the car only has a few thousand miles on the clock.

If you still want something with that new-car smell, pre-registered cars offer a great solution to price problems. Dealerships will often pre-register cars in order to clear stock quickly. Technically speaking, this means that the car in question is no longer new – despite having been driven rarely, if ever. Often, this will result in a discount of £1000 or more off the list price.

Depreciation rates vary wildly between manufacturers and models, with some cars holding their value better than others. On average, a three year old car in the UK will lose between 50 and 75% of its original price, despite still being relatively new – with many cars remaining fully operation beyond 10 years of age. As a general rule, the stronger the demand for a car, the more value it’s going to retain with age. Therefore, the best bargains are often found on surplus used vehicles, where supply of that particular model exceeds the level of demand.

Another tact is to look for less popular brands – many of these manufacturers get snubbed because of their lack of curb appeal, but still produce excellent cars. There’s a steady stream of used cars out there, making the second-hand game a buyers’ market – this means you’ve got plenty of buyer power to shop around for the best price.

Used Ford Mondeo

Image Source: Brian Marks

Shop safe

One major disadvantage when it comes to buying second-hand, especially in a private sale, is the lack of reassurance offered from a reputable dealership. Second-hand cars rarely come with a warranty or any protection against getting a bad deal. Therefore it’s important you brush up on your knowledge and ask the right questions when looking at a used car. We’ve made a handy list of top tips to consider when buying second-hand.

  • Once you’ve identified the model of car you’re after, search online for any common faults or problems unique to that make or model. This information is readily available and a quick search will highlight any areas to pay special attention to when you arrange your viewing and test drive.
  • If you’re thinking about buying a vehicle you’ve seen, it’s worth paying for a vehicle check Simply enter the vehicle’s registration into one of the many online vehicle background checking services to find out if the seller is being truthful about the vehicle’s history. This data will confirm that the make, model and colour matches the current registration. It will also tell you if the car has been reported stolen, written off or has an outstanding loan on it.
  • Businesses like the RAC offer a service whereby one of their trained mechanics will come along and inspect the vehicle with you – giving you full reassurance that the car you’re buying is mechanically sound and safe to drive. Although this service isn’t cheap, it could potentially save you thousands if you purchase a problematic car with warranty protection.

For further guidance and a list of other essential checks to make before buying a used car, check out the official Government guidelines.
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About The Author

Jon Le Roux is co-founder and company director of The Car Loan Warehouse. Being a mad engineering and motorsport enthusiast, I spend more hours than is healthy, watching, reading or talking about cars, boats, motorbikes…..basically anything with an engine.