Buying a used car can seem like a daunting experience, especially if you’re doing it for the first time. But there are many advantages too, not least that you’ll suffer less depreciation than when buying new because someone else has already taken the initial hit, and you’ll have a much wider choice of vehicles.

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Do Your Research

Before you start viewing cars it’s worth doing some homework. You need to decide what kind of car is best for your needs, think about how many passengers you carry, how much load space you need, the amount of mileage you do and so on.

You can then draw up a shortlist of models that suit your needs. If you’re not familiar with the car market there are plenty of websites or magazines that will tell you what’s available. They’ll also point out the good and bad points of different models and what to look out for when buying, as well as indicating the sort of price you should expect to pay. Using this information you can narrow down your choice to just a few models.

Where to Buy

Once you know the type of car you’re looking for you can start to browse the adverts in the press or online to see what’s available in your area. Remember that there are different ways of buying, you’ll have a choice of private sellers, trade-ins at new car dealers, garages that specialise only in used cars, or even auctions.

Buying privately can be cheaper but you’ll have better safeguards when buying from a trade seller. Auctions can be tricky if you’ve never used one before, so take along a knowledgeable friend. When you go to look at a car it’s important to inspect the vehicle carefully and look for obvious flaws like paint scratches or low tyre tread. These minor items needn’t necessarily put you off buying but they can help you negotiate a better deal.

Make sure you give the vehicle a thorough test drive and use the opportunity to check that electric windows, air con and other gadgets are working properly. Ask about the history of the car too, don’t be put off it’s come from a fleet or hire company as these cars are well maintained and properly run in because they’ve been subject to a variety of driving styles.

Finally, don’t rush into a deal, there are lots of cars on the market so it’s worth taking your time to find the right one.