Your Car Buying Guide
Our top tips for buying a used car
The following guide has been put together to help your car buying experience become as hassle and stress free as possible. What makes our guide different is that we focus around the later stages of your decision making when buying your car and our advice when things go wrong.
Finding a car you love is in our mind, easy enough. However, who to buy from is the biggest risk factor in the whole buying process as this is who is taking your hard earned money.
Your car buying journey
The below will take you step by step through your car buying journey.
With over 36 million car buyers visiting this site a month, this is by far the most powerful website to use when finding a car. AutoTrader have invested in their on page experience offering a vast amount of information about the car you are looking to buy. In late 2016 they rolled out dealer reviews to assist car buyers in their search for a trusted dealerships (we strongly recommend researching a dealerships reviews elsewhere instead of using only one platform).
The major strength of AutoTrader vs the market is the volume of dealerships who use their platform. This means more cars for sale at any one time.
This is the new powerhouse that joined the UK market a couple of years ago. They are the biggest classified site in the US and were founded by Recently they purchased another classified site called Pistonheads.
The strength of CarGurus is their “Best Deals First” feature which displays cars based on the value of their deal for you the customer. They also hold dealer reviews at the centre of their product offering.
One of the newer sites available to UK car buyers. In the words of Carwow, Carwow, stylised as carwow, is a platform for buying new cars from franchise dealers. It uses the reverse marketplace model to remove the need for buyers to negotiate with car sellers – users choose the car they would like to buy, along with the various specifications and features, then receive offers direct from dealers.
One of the older classified sites that are around.
An interesting addition to the car buying marketplace. They essentially aim to become to the Google of the car buying world in that you search for what you want in a car and they serve you ads matching your requirements.
Well known for buying and selling household good, Gumtree has established itself as a major player in the UK car market with more and more dealerships listing stock.
Operate in the same way sites such as AutoTrader & CarGurus, however they were recently purchased by Ebay to become part oft their family.
Can be completed traditionally via the dealership or now with numerous car buying websites such as We Buy Any car or The Car Buying Group.
As mentioned before you are more likely to receive more money for your car selling provate, however this comes with the hassle of listing your car and dealing with other potential buyers. Sites such as AutoTrader, Motors.co.uk, Gumtree, Ebay and Pistonheads.
- Buying your car– this will be your biggest expenditure and can either be paid in full or you can take out a finance deal and pay over a period of time.
- Finance deals– if you have taken out finance from a dealership or broker then you will need to factor in your monthly repayments alongside the below.
- Car insurance– once you have found the car you want to purchase make sure you go online and use comparison sites such as Compare The Market or Go Compare to check how much your monthly or yearly cost to insurance your car will cost.
- Tax– it’s now easier than ever to find out how much you will pay for car tax. Sites such as AutoTrader display this against each car listing, if you cant find this use https://carfueldata.vehicle-certification-agency.gov.uk/ to find out.
- MOT– if the car your buying is older than 3 years then you will need to have an MOT test which is typically around the £50 mark. Always try and use a trusted local garage.
- Servicing– in order to keep your car performing at a high standard it is recommended that you service your car at least once a year. A full service can range anywhere between £120 to £350 depending on the make/ model of your car.
- Fuel– this is an area often forgotten by motorists when buying a new car. Most classified sites now clearly display the MPG for each car along with a clear expected cost to fill your tank. You can also check here https://carfueldata.vehicle-certification-agency.gov.uk/
- Other costs– there are plenty of other additional costs that will arise through car ownership. New tyres can add up, an option here are part worn tyres. General car repairs come at a cost along with other maintenance outgoings such as valets should be considered.
- If your simply viewing a car, you must seek assurances that the car is ready for a test drive and is mechanically sound. A long round trip to view a car will not only cost you time but it will also cost you money for fuel
- If things go wrong within your warranty period where can the car be fixed? Do the dealership expect you to use their preferred garage? If so, this will be a major problem. We strongly recommend getting an agreement in writing on where your vehicle can be fixed or you could end up with a hefty bill for repairs due to a dealer refusing to pay for another garage to fix your car.
- Can you drive away the same day and do you have to pay a delivery fee. These questions should be answered prior to your visit as these are additional costs that could mount up.
This must be the most commonly overlooked part of the car buying experience. If the dealership has horrendous reviews then avoid them like the plague. The public can’t all be wrong about them so listen and avoid. Would you visit a hotel that is rated 1 star and has a terrible reputation? Buying a car is a big expense to dont take a risk with your money and safety. Read more about how to research a car dealership here.
The first check is a simple one around the mileage. The typical annual mileage for any car is around 10, 000 miles so anything a logn way off this measured against its age should raise red flags. Questions should be asked of the dealer before your visit. The second part is a HPI check which tells you if the car has been written off or involved in an accident. If this hasnt been declared by dealership in their ad then we recommend leaving this car well alone as their could be massive issues with the car in the long term.
If something doesnt feel right or you have a nad bad feeling about either the car or the dealership then walk away and give yourself time to think. A dealership will always tell you their is great interest in the car, in reality often this is a tactic to force your hand to act quick and make the purchase.
- Be wary leaving a deposit. I have read many reviews where car buyers have left a deposit on a vehicle prior to seeing it on the basis that it would be refunded should they not want the vehicle. However on rejecting the car the dealership refused to refund the deposit with the car buyer left out of pocket.
IF you choose to leave a deposit either pre sale or on your visit ensure you have it in writing that its refundable. This can either be on your receipt or in an email.
- The Logbook or V5
- Service book
- Car manual
- Sales contract *check for sold as seen as this may affect your rights if things go wrong
- Finance agreement
- Spare keys
The above section on “Paying for your next car” explains your rights when using certain payment methods. Have all complaints and communication in writing as this may help you if this goes further with trading standard, Citizens Advice or even in court. The below has been taken from Citizens Advice:
If there’s something wrong with your used car (e.g. it’s breaking down, the brakes have gone or it’s been clocked), you may have a legal right to a repair, the cost of a repair, or some or all of your money back.
You should report a company to Trading Standards if, for example:
- they misled you into buying their products or services
- they sold you unsafe or dangerous items
- they didn’t carry out the work properly, for example, their work left your home in a dangerous state
- they sold you fake or counterfeit items
- they pressured you to buy something you didn’t want to buy
- they sold you a car that wasn’t ‘roadworthy’ (it would cause danger if it was on the road)
You won’t be entitled to anything if:
- you were told about the fault when you bought the car – and someone fully explained what the problem meant
- you inspected the car and should’ve spotted the problem, for example a dent
- you’re just unhappy with how much you paid for the car
- you caused the fault
Your consumer rights are different if you’ve changed your mind about the car and there’s nothing wrong with it. Click here to lodge a complaint:
Your rights are very limited when buying from a private seller. The logic here is that the car is sold as seen, the seller has no obligation to have completed the same checks a dealership will have. The only instances where you have rights are if major outstanding issues werent declared when you asked, but you must ask this question and again, if you can get this in writing this will help your case. However, proving the seller knew about this issue and kept it from you is very difficult to prove.