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Used Car Buying Guide

There’s no better way to save money than choosing a used car. You might not get a car in the exact specification you want, but you can easily save thousands of pounds.

• Good value for money
• Many cars are available to drive away immediately
• A wide choice of cars, many of which are no longer available to buy new
• Nearly-new cars have already had the significant drop in value which normally occurs just after purchase
• No showroom tax
• No ‘running-in’ required

• Less chance of a warranty
• The possibility of hidden history
• Less options to choose exact specification
• Availability of rare models can fluctuate

Where to buy a used car

There are no shortage of places to buy a used car, all offering different experiences and prices.

Main dealer
It’s not just new cars main dealers sell; they’ll usually have a healthy stock of used cars too. Many of their cars will be from the car maker they’re affiliated with, so they’ll know their products well. You can expect a good level of customer service, finance deals and warranties, but this service does come at a premium. Main dealers will often have access to used approved and pre-registered cars.

Used car dealers
Specialising in used cars, independent used car dealers are a common sight. They usually have a small number of cars for sale, ranging in price, size and type, from a variety of manufacturers. Buyers are protected by a range of laws designed to ensure safe and fair transactions, and you’ll usually pay less than you would at a main dealer.

Used car supermarkets
Expect a quick and clinical experience, but many buyers are happy with this as there can be massive savings. Typically supermarkets will sell bread and butter models, but there’s plenty of choice and part exchanges and finance deals can be arranged.

Private car sellers
Perhaps the best route to finding a car at a bargain price. Thousands of motorists sell their cars privately across the country, so there’s a good chance you’ll find your perfect car nearby. Private sales aren’t covered by specific laws, meaning buyers need to make sure the car doesn’t have a chequered history as there’s little comeback if the deal turns sour.

One for the pros, but lining up alongside dozens of dealers means there are bargains to be had. However, you’ll have little opportunity to test the car before you buy and there can be little comeback if your purchase turns out to be a lemon.

Used approved cars
Used approved schemes take the worry out of buying a used car. They’re run by car manufacturers and the cars are sold through their dealers.

Different schemes from different manufacturers vary slightly, but most include:
• A full service
• Guaranteed mileage
• A lengthy warranty
• A thorough mechanical check
• A guarantee  an used approved cars is not recorded as stolen or a write-off, or subject to outstanding finance

Most schemes offer a search on the manufacturer’s website, and include younger, low mileage cars only.

Pre-registered cars
A pre-registered car is a brand new car that’s already been registered. That means buyers get a brand new car, but they’ll be the second owner on the logbook with the first being the dealership.

They’re usually only available from main dealers, which will register fleets of brand new cars in order to achieve their sales bonus. This means the savings can be passed to the buyer – typically around £500 upwards.

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