Options for Buying a Used Car

With new car sales reaching record levels, the used car market is currently awash with vehicles including some real gems but buying a used car is, as it always has been, fraught with danger and great care is needed to avoid the pitfalls. The world it seems is full of used cars and so, after deciding on the make and model, it is time to get down to the serious business of car buying. Some of the car buying options are as follows:

Buying from a Dealer

This is the traditional way of car buying that has been around for as long as cars themselves. The main advantages of this method of car purchase are that a reputable dealer will have been able to thoroughly check the condition of the car and remedied any defects. It will also have been subjected to a check regarding any outstanding finance or previous insurance history. Some warranty is almost always available and trade sales are also subject to some legal protection. An added convenience is that a dealer will usually accept a trade-in vehicle and will also probably be able to help arrange with finance if required. The main problem with this type of sale is that the car will invariably be offered at “full book price” which is dictated by the motor trade publications. Most car dealers are completely trustworthy but it is still important to buy only from an established dealer with a good reputation.

For buyers in the Greater London area there are some new and interesting options in the ‘dealer’ category.  The well known hire company ‘Hertz’ is now selling their used cars in London from several locations and the proposition of buying from such a well known entity comes with obvious trust and quality benefits.

Buying from a Private Advertisement

Private car ads can be found all over the place from cards in shop windows to local papers and sites such as Autotrader. The main advantage of buying in this way is that, by cutting out the middle-man, both the buyer and seller can end up getting a better deal but, from the buyer’s point of view, any initial savings can easily be overshadowed by huge costs only coming to light later. Private sales are not covered by the provisions of the Sale of Goods Act and the seller has no responsibility for any future faults or defects. Buyers are also strongly advised to pay for an HPI check in the same way that dealers do. Failure to do so could result in the purchase of a car that had previously suffered accident damage or, in the case of outstanding finance, the car could even be repossessed.

Buying from the Internet

Here we are entering dangerous territory. Internet sales sites such as eBay have revolutionised the way that we buy and sell and many second-hand items are identical so a bargain is easy to spot. Unfortunately the same cannot be said about cars. Anyone buying a used car needs to thoroughly inspect it in person, drive it and carry out all of the aforementioned checks regarding its legitimacy. Only then is it possible to determine what a fair price would be. All too often, bids are placed in an eBay auction based on the seller’s description and a few, often not very good, photos. The results of such folly are fairly predictable with many disappointments and uncompleted sales. Some people have managed to find some exceptional bargains in this way but it must be said that this is due more to good luck than good judgement.

Buying from Car Auctions

Auctions can be fun and prices can be completely unpredictable. Car auctions have previously been regarded as being strictly for the motor trade often used to dispose of vehicles regarded as being unsuitable for normal retail sale. Some vehicles may have faults and require some repair work attracting buyers capable of carrying out such work. Prices are generally well below the normal forecourt prices meaning that there is often the potential to make a profit on subsequent re-sales. The smart auction buyer will carry out plenty of research about the lots offered in the sale and some auction houses have sales of “end of lease” vehicles including some from the “Motability” scheme. Some such vehicles can be found in “as new” condition with very low mileages and are well worth considering. However, even when buying a very good car at auction, there is very little comeback if things go wrong later. Even when an auction lot is described as coming with a warranty this bears little resemblance to to that offered by a car dealer and will normally only be valid for a period of one hour after the completion of the auction. This gives the purchaser the chance to quickly drive and thoroughly inspect the car before the sale becomes absolute.

So used car buying is not for the faint hearted. Those with little experience or mechanical aptitude are best sticking with a reputable dealership. The more mechanically minded may prefer to seek out a bargain but whatever buying option is chosen it is always wise to remember the buying mantra Caveat Emptor … Let the buyer beware!

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