There are potential pitfalls from purchasing a second hand car and they have been widely publicised. You may worry about the possibility of getting a car that has previously been stolen, damaged or written off. Or more commonly, one which has existing problems, which are not immediately apparent, but which soon become an expensive and inconvenient fix.
There can however be many positives to buying second hand:
- Save Money
The obvious reason for buying a car second hand is the saving in list price. If you are not in the position to afford a brand new car then a second hand alternative is a great opportunity to get a great car at a much lower price.
- Avoid the biggest depreciation
Typically, a new car will lose 50-60 per cent of its value after three years (assuming that it’s traveling at the average rate of around 10,000 miles per year). That is a massive depreciation of your original investment that you simply will never get back. Of course cars continue to depreciate in value but if you buy a car which is 3 years old then you will avoid the biggest chunk of depreciation.
- Supplementary Features
One benefit of buying used, which is often overlooked, is the fact that some second hand cars already have a lot of additional features. When buying brand new there will be a long list of extras which also cost extra. Things like sun roofs, leather seats, audio systems and inbuilt sat navs cost a small fortune to acquire when a vehicle is fresh off the production line. Once it has aged a little and the features have been superseded by cutting edge mod cons, they won’t add much to its second hand price.
- No waiting period
It is common when purchasing a brand new car off the forecourt to have to wait a while to drive it home. On the other hand, when you buy used, the transaction is quick and straightforward. Normally, you can drive the car home on the same day. So if you need transport quick then second hand is the way to go.
How to avoid used car buying problems
Fortunately, it is possible to avoid many of the most common pitfalls. It simply requires taking some sensible precautions and making some simple checks on any car you consider buying.
Stolen cars or outstanding finance
Naturally, one of the largest concerns used car buyers have is whether the car has a hidden past. Specifically, has it been stolen or does it have outstanding finance on it? Exercising a little caution is always a smart move and particularly if you’re buying a car in a private sale do the following:
- Read the documents carefully
If you are buying a car privately, ensure the name and address of the person you have gone to see matches that of the registered keeper on the V5c. If you are buying from a dealer, they should at least be able to tell you where they got the car from.
Irrespective of who you buy from, a car history check a good idea. These are now so easy and quick to do that it would be a big mistake not to invest a little in a HPI check. The HPI Check Report will alert you to any worrying information held against the vehicle by finance and insurance companies, the DVLA, the Police and other industry bodies.
In addition a simple and free check to do is to put the registration number of the car into the UK government’s online MoT and tax checker. If the car that comes up doesn’t match the car you are looking at, something is amiss.
Written off and damaged cars
Not all car damage is that important – a wing replaced after catching the wall on the way into multi-storey car park is nothing to worry about. However, irrespective of the quality of the repair work, it is good to find out exactly what damage was sustained. If a car has been written-off, the vendor (be they private or trade) is legally required to tell you before you buy but less serious impacts can easily be left unreported.
So what can you do to spot such vehicles?
Your first option is to get in touch with a motoring organisation like the AA or RAC to arrange an inspection by a qualified vehicle engineer (albeit for a fee). No genuine seller should object to a mechanical inspection of a car they’re selling – if they do, walk away. If there are have been any major mechanical repairs, a professional inspection will be able to find them.
- Follow a used car buying checklist
Secondly, you can follow the Auto Express used car checklist. Here we take you step-by-step through the necessary points to check when looking at a used car. If you do this, it is key to remember that if something looks wrong, it probably is. And even if it isn’t, it’s probably not worth taking the risk.
- Buy from a reputable dealer
If you’re less than confident when it comes to evaluating a used car yourself, the best bet is to buy from a dealer. You’ll pay a little more but you get a better level of protection should something go wrong and for many people the peace of mind will be worth it.
Check out our blog on 8 ways to upgrade your car if your used car needs a little more oomph.
If you’ve bought a second hand car and it needs a little work don’t be put off doing some of the work yourself. We recently wrote an article talking about why you shouldn’t be put off going DIY on your car especially for services. Read it here. https://www.viperperformance.co.uk/blog/shouldnt-put-working-car/