Buying secondhand - 10 things that you need to remember
Aidan Timmons and Eddie Cunningham pick top 10 must-do things for you before you buy
It has been quite a while since we've had such a breadth and variety of choice in the secondhand market.
Not so long ago, you couldn't get a fresh, low-mileage used car for love nor money.
Now with increased new car sales meaning more trade-ins and a flood of secondhand imports, all of a sudden it has become a buyer's market.
What follows is designed not to curb your enthusiasm and enjoyment in the search for your next car.
Rather, we hope it will serve as a reminder that, like everything else in life, a little knowledge and planning can go a long way.
1 We get so many queries from people who sometimes over-complicate things for themselves. Try, as far as possible, to whittle down what you need to three or four key points: size of car (for two, five, seven - children, adults, elderly etc), size of engine (diesel, petrol, hybrid, electric), realistic budget/repayment capability.
2 Consider the condition and saleability of your existing car, if you have one. Will you find it hard to sell privately? Will trading it in cost you more in the long run? Don't forget: dealers have to shift old cars but can make money out of fresh trade-ins. Ask them directly what the newer car will cost in a straight deal - and then what you'll have to pay with your own car as part of the transaction. The Cost of Change is all you need to establish. Don't get too hung up on what you are getting for your car.
3 If buying straight, your position is greatly strengthened. Dealers love seeing no trade-ins. Obviously you want as low-price a car as you can get but also consider non-cash items as a deal maker: maybe a 12-month warranty instead of six months, etc.
4 Many people fail to test-drive their potential purchase enough. Drive it, sit in it (front and back), check the boot will suffice for your daily/weekly needs. Take your time.
5 Shop around. It is easy. And that includes considering imports. But always give the dealer(s) near you a chance. A good one will be there for you in times of trouble. Tell them you are giving them a chance but emphasise you don't expect to pay a premium for proximity.
6 We have more than two million cars on our roads and some haven't been treated quite right, so it always pays dividends to have a second pair of eyes look over your car if buying privately. Offer to pay a mechanic for their time to inspect.
7 We frequently recommend simplifying your purchase by buying from a main, franchise, or well-established independent dealer but if you must buy privately, then be sure to invest in a vehicle history and finance report. The tax and NCT data should give you a good insight into how the current owner has treated the car. If it has a patchy history, then walk away.
8 Always compare like with like. Residual values depend on a number of factors such as mileage, condition, and specification. A difference in mileage of 15,000km to 20,000km might translate into a year's worth of driving, so be sure to see the value in buying a car with lower mileage.
9 Compare vehicles a year younger than the one you think you can afford. Without going into the intricacies of residual values, suffice to say the price gaps between years are tight for many mass-market models.
10 Figuring out how to pay for your next car is crucial, so ensure you price around different lenders and credit unions for competitive interest rates. Sometimes there can be additional bargaining power to be had if you organise finance through a main dealer.