Buying a used car: 10 tips to save money and choose the right car

Expert advice on the checks to make when buying second-hand, from history and accident damage to dealer reputation and warranties

buying a used car: 10 tips to save money and choose the right car

With demand so high and sellers able to charge more for used cars, it’s more important than ever for buyers to do their research and take some basic steps to ensure they’re getting a good deal.

buying a used car: 10 tips to save money and choose the right car

With that in mind, we spoke to Mike Todd, CEO of Volkswagen Financial Services, for his top tips for making your money go further when buying a used car.

compare sellers

Prices can vary between large franchises, independent retailers, and private sellers, so it’s also important to consider the reputation of the seller to determine if they’re a trustworthy party. Always take time to do your research.

Compare prices and consult financing offers

Do your research and think about comparing prices before visiting a retailer or private seller. Current prices can be obtained through retailers’ online portals and other websites. Also make use of online finance calculators, and once you know a ballpark figure, you’ll be in a better place to negotiate a good deal.

It pays to research a dealer’s reputation before deciding whether to buy from them.

A picture paints more than a thousand words

When searching for a vehicle online, the quality of the pictures and the quantity can tell a lot about the car and the seller without seeing it in person. Very few images may suggest that the seller is trying to hide something.

history check

Take precautions instead of assuming a car is in top condition. Make sure you get a good general idea of ​​a vehicle’s condition by taking a close look at its history report. The key indicators of a superior model are low mileage, a full service history, a low number of previous owners, and passing all HPI checks. Always find out if the vehicle has been in any previous accidents or has had previous modifications in terms of auto parts.

Look for wear and damage

Do not take the seller’s word that the car has not been damaged or has never been repaired. Attention to detail is paramount and should be the buyer’s priority and center of mind when looking for hidden signs of repair. Indicators can come in all shapes and sizes, from doors that are difficult to open and close, to blemishes or mismatched paint.

tire test

Before you even test drive a car, take a close look at its tires. A disproportionate tread may suggest that the tracking is not straight and should be corrected. You will also be able to notice this while driving, as the car may drift to the left or right. Other signs of neglect or wear can include cracked, bald, or dry rubber on the tires. Cheap tires from unknown brands can also indicate that the previous owner skimped on other areas of maintenance.

Uneven tire wear can be a sign of more serious mechanical problems.

Get a second opinion

It never hurts to have a second set of eyes to check out a vehicle before you buy it. If you have a friend or family member who is a mechanic, perhaps ask him or her for advice or consider getting a professional inspection. It’s always wise to lift the hood and ask someone to take a look, even if you’re not sure what you’re looking at.

preparation for the road

The availability of a vehicle to view or test drive may also be a reason for further investigation. A car that is not almost immediately available to view can raise suspicions if no explanation is given.

Extended warranty

Some used vehicles come with an extended warranty, which can help save on future repairs. Otherwise, it’s important to consider whether the extra cost of finding a car with a warranty is worth it should a problem arise.

Check your credit score

Your credit score is an assessment by a particular lender or credit reference company of how good a credit risk you are, based on their own criteria. However, a good score is no guarantee that you will be able to borrow money, as different lenders have different criteria for choosing clients.

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