Buying a used car typically means paying far less than if you bought the same vehicle brand new. This is because vehicles tend to depreciate quickly, and just about everyone has owned a used vehicle at one time or another. On the other hand, some people have never owned a brand new car, preferring to go for the cheaper second-hand versions.
Second-hand cars can be bought from a dealership or from a private seller. Both methods have advantages and disadvantages. For example, a dealership many offer a warranty which means you may be able to return the car if you find a fault within a certain time of buying it. Dealerships may also be able to offer you part exchange, reducing the price of a car according to their estimated value of the vehicle you wish to trade in.
Private sellers may be cheaper than dealers, but there is the drawback of no chance of a warranty or part exchange deal.
The cost of used cars may also depend on the economic climate. They may go up or down in general price depending on demand, and if people have very little spare cash and are not planning on buying vehicles the price may go down generally.
On the flip side of the coin, if the economy is doing well, people may have more cash to spend on running a vehicle and the price of a used car may be comparatively more expensive.
Valuation expert Glass's has said by the end of 2009 drivers may end up paying two to four per cent less for older cars than they do currently. This is because of figures showing some cars have gone up in price by as much as 30 per cent in the last year, mainly due to the fact the market has seen less used vehicles recently after manufacturers cut back on producing news ones because of the economic downturn.
Buying a used car does not need only mean thinking about the price. You may want to check out things like the service history to see what work has been done on it in the past. For example, has the head gasket ever blown ?, Has there ever been a problem with a gear box? This may improve or worsen your view of the car – if it looks generally unreliable it may be overpriced and not worth buying, but if it has a critical component which has recently replaced, this may actually be an advantage.
Some other things you may want to check include;
- the car's past, with a vehicle history check
- how much time is left on the tax disc before it expires
- when the car is next due for an MOT
Buying a used car remains one of the most effective ways of getting a cheap and reliable vehicle, although it may pay to take care and shop around before making a purchase. You must also weigh up whether going privately for buying from a dealer is best for you.