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4 ways to get the best deal when buying a used/secondhand car

Buying a second-hand car should be cheaper than buying new, just as with clothes; unless, of course, you’re going vintage (clothes or cars). But how can you make sure that you’re not paying more than you should or more than you expected for a used car? We’ve had a look at, carbuyer and the Money Advice Service to bring you 4 top tips on getting the best deal.

  1. Do your research.
    Check out other ads for the same car and look online to make sure you have an idea of a reasonable price. Websites such as AutoTrader and allow you to compare costs for similar cars for sale, helping you to be aware if someone is trying to charge way too much. If you’re buying from a dealership, compare the price with other dealerships in the area selling the same car. If you’re buying privately, check out costs online. This will allow you to find the best offer; you can always ask someone to beat or match the lowest price you’ve found as well.
  2. Do the maths and take into account other costs.
    Cars don’t just cost the amount you buy them for. When you’re doing your sums, take into account the following: Fuel costs. Go for a car with high mpg (miles per gallon) to get the most out of the fuel you’ll be buying but bear in mind that some cars may be more efficient if used mostly at lower speeds for shorter journeys; others might work out more efficient if used for long journeys at high speeds. The right car for you in terms of fuel economy depends on what you want the car for. Insurance. Cars are put into insurance groups from 1-50 and the lower the number, the lower the insurance costs. If you’re a new driver, having an experienced driver on your insurance policy may make insurance cheaper (but don’t put the car in their name if they aren’t the main driver; that’s illegal). Tax. If your car has high CO2 emissions, aside from being bad for the environment, it’ll cost you more in road tax. General costs. This includes things like the annual service and MOT most cars require once a year but also necessary repairs etc. Some cars are more prone to needing repairs than others so even if they are cheaper to start with, they may end up costing you more over the years. Again, the best advice we can give is to do your research! Most cars will require maintenance at some point; make sure you budget some extra money for this so you don’t end up unable to cover the costs. Other monthly costs Okay, so these aren’t directly related to the car but they are crucial to bear in mind. The monthly price of a car may sound great compared to your salary but when you get home and realise you also have groceries to buy, and bills and a mortgage to pay, the dream could suddenly turn into a nightmare. Don’t forget the things you’re already paying for! Websites like Parkers and What Car? will give you an idea of a car’s expected tax, its mpg and insurance group while you can calculate vehicle tax rates at GOV.UK (you’ll need to know the date your vehicle was registered which you can find here).
  3. Don’t be scared to haggle…
    With the whole internet at your fingertips, it’s not hard to find some of the better prices out there. Use these as bargaining tools. It’s absolutely key to do your research. If you know how much the car should be going for, this will stop you both accepting a deal that sounds good (but isn’t really) and having unrealistic expectations of crazily low prices! It’s not just enough to know what other people are asking for the same car; bear in mind mileage, condition etc. Don’t feel the need to buy right then. If you leave, the chances are that a dealership will be back in touch with a sweeter deal, and a private seller may think more seriously about your offer if they don’t get interest from other people.
  4. Timing matters.
    Some times are better to buy than others. Here are a few of the best times to buy the vehicle you’re looking for. None of these are hard and fast rules though so you may want to keep an eye on trends or test out bargaining at several different times. The ‘wrong’ time Just as swimming costumes will be more expensive due to demand in summer, think about buying the car you want when there’s least demand – a convertible in winter, or a 4x4 in summer for instance. The end of the year Towards the end of the year, people are saving up for Christmas, and we all know how tight money gets in January. Understandably, sales tend to be slower for dealerships and private sellers around this time of year, making them much more willing to give you a bargain. And you don’t need to forgo Christmas to be able to afford it; plan in advance so you have the extra cash to hand at this time of year. The times other people aren’t buying So not the weekends or the beginning of the month right after payday then. Stick to weekdays (some salesmen have a weekly quota to meet so might be more likely to give good deals on Fridays) and budget well so that you can buy your car at the end of the month – when everyone else is a bit tight on money and sales are slower. Again, this will make it more likely that you’ll get a good deal. Just before the registration plates change The registration plates change in March and September, meaning dealerships will have old stock to clear before then. But the pitfall of this plan is that you’ll have a car with a registration number that makes it seem older than it is; this will decrease the value of the car faster.

Let us know how these top tips work out for you or tell us your own secrets to getting the best deal on Facebook or Twitter. And if you’re reading this because you’re looking for a new car, we hope it goes well! Need new or used van/car parts at awesome prices? Use our PartFinder to get quotes from breakers across the UK.