What to look for when buying a used car
When it comes to buying a second-hand car, there’s a lot to think about. What age car should you buy? Is it best to buy from a dealer, private seller, online marketplace or auction? Here’s the lowdown on all your options and some thoughts on how to make the right decisions for you.
Should you buy a used or new car?
The allure of a brand-new car is irresistible for some. But for many of us, buying a used car is the wisest option as it offers much better value for money. New cars cost more than their second-hand equivalents and will also depreciate at a much faster rate. If a new car is out of your price range and you don’t mind not driving the latest model, buying a used car is a sensible choice that could save you thousands of pounds.
There are many routes to buying a car – which is the best one for you will depend on several factors, including budget and personal preference. It’s a good idea to research all your options so you can be comfortable with the route you choose. Let’s consider those choices.
Franchised dealerships usually specialise in one single manufacturer and sell both new and used cars. While this is usually the most expensive way to buy a car, it is also the most secure: you can benefit from robust consumer protection in the form of a decent warranty and a thorough vehicle inspection (inside and out), as well as the peace of mind that comes from dealing with experts. Franchised dealerships only sell high-quality, relatively young cars (usually less than three years old).
Independent dealers have no affiliation with any one manufacturer, meaning that they can sell any brand of used car. Independent dealers or garages can be considerably less expensive than franchises because the majority of their stock is likely to be older; they are likely to have a wider range of cars to choose from than franchised dealers and therefore offer greater choice. This is helpful if you are unsure of what car you are looking for.
Any respectable dealer or garage should subject all its vehicles to rigorous checks before selling them on. It’s important to do your research on any potential independent garage or dealer and check online reviews to find out about their services and reputation before you give them your business.
Buying from a private seller is often more affordable. Firstly, private sellers are usually selling older cars; secondly, the seller isn’t focused on maximising profit for a business, meaning that prices can be very appealing. Buyers can haggle more and sales tend to be quick, although there is very little legal protection for you should you face issues with the car later down the line. Bear in mind too that private sellers aren’t obliged to perform the same checks as franchised dealers so the onus is on you to verify the safety and history of the car.
Although it’s not always possible, some lenders will offer car finance for private sales depending on the circumstances. If you find a car that you love via a dealer that’s not affiliated with Oodle’s Marketplace, tell us about it! If it meets our eligibility criteria we may be able to help with the finance.
Buying a car online is a convenient option, you can browse large numbers of used cars without having to leave the sofa.
Although you won’t be able to take one for a test drive, should you go on to buy a car you find online you may benefit from a ‘cooling off’ period, during which you can return the car for a full refund if you decide it’s not for you.
Online showrooms, such as Oodle’s Marketplace, enable you to browse thousands of used cars, all from hand-picked, approved dealers. You can filter your search according to what matters most to you, whether that’s cost, features, location, make and model, or a combination of the lot, and search at your leisure.
Should you need any help finding a car or applying for finance, the Oodle team are on hand to assist. From finding that perfect blue you’ve been dreaming of to arranging delivery, we’re here to support you throughout the buying journey.
If you know a thing or two about cars then a car auction might be worth a visit, as you could end up walking away with a bargain. However, it’s not an ideal route if you need support and advice as you will have limited chance to inspect any car and no chance of a test drive. If you’re inexperienced, you may benefit from the safety net of a dealership, or from the online buying support that internet retailers like Oodle can provide.
Questions to ask when buying a used car
Whether you’re buying from a dealer or a private seller there are certain questions you should ask to ensure you’re getting a good deal and that you’re completely happy with the car. If you’re buying from a dealership, they should be able to provide proof of an HPI check before selling any vehicle; ask to see the records. If they haven’t, or you are buying privately, we recommend running one yourself.
Check for any outstanding finance. As car finance is one of the most popular ways to buy used and new cars, a significant number of roadworthy vehicles legally belong to finance providers until their customers pay off their agreement in full. If you inadvertently buy a car with unpaid finance from an unscrupulous private vendor, the lender could recover the car. Be sure to run an HPI check to be certain of the car’s history before you make a purchase.
An HPI check provides a comprehensive overview of the history of your chosen car, protecting you from buying a vehicle that’s been stolen, written off or seriously compromised. An HPI check includes:
Insurance write-off checks
Checks for any outstanding finance
Recorded as stolen checks
A guide valuation
The peace of mind that complete vehicle checks provide cannot be overstated – they could help you to negotiate a better price with the seller, too.
The documents you will need to check include:
A watermarked registration document or V5C logbook
An MOT certificate
The vehicle handbook
The service book for a full service history
The documents and paperwork you should have with you include:
Proof of your identity and address
Need to find a car?
We make that easy too
Find all the latest listings from Oodle approved dealers
So you’ve bought yourself the car of your dreams – congratulations! Before you drive off into the sunset, here are your final tasks.
Get it insured and taxed. You can’t legally drive the car home before you’ve done so (it is easy enough to get quotes beforehand and then authorise them when you’re ready to drive home), so make sure you’ve got this sorted before you get behind the wheel.
Read the owner’s manual through and familiarise yourself with your new used car.
Get some breakdown cover. If you’ve bought your car from a dealer this may already be included; if not, time to do it now.
Finally: enjoy your car! After all that hard work, you deserve it.