Used cars are the perfect way to purchase your first car or a car that is significantly cheaper than a brand new car. Purchasing a car brand new is simply not a viable option to many motorists. You are likely aware and conscious of the significant investment that you need to make upfront when purchasing a new vehicle as well as how the depreciation of your new car leads to a potentially huge loss of money when it comes to finding your next vehicle (reducing around 20-27% by Year 1).

We understand that you may have some questions or maybe unsure when you are looking for a used car from a dealer, especially if you are a first time buyer. This is why we have written this used car buying guide to offer you some top tips on purchasing a used car and what to look out for and consider when choosing your first or next vehicle.

Any tips or ideas not make our list? Do you have a tip that has really helped you when finding a used car? Let us know in the comments below!

Tip 1 – Used Cars are Much Cheaper Than New Cars

As we touched upon – if you are looking to set a budget and are deciding on whether or not to buy a new or used car – depreciation is a huge consideration to make. However, if we compare the price of a new car compared to a used car that has been used for 1 year – there is a significant difference in price as well as the fact that there shouldn’t be anything majorly wrong with a vehicle that has only been registered for a year. You still won’t have to have an MOT for another 2 years and this is a great way to purchase a car that is practically brand new. As mentioned – a used car is also the perfect way to purchase an older car if you are on a budget such as if you are looking to purchase your first vehicle.

Tip 2 – Do Not Forget About Fuel Efficiency

Another aspect that you will need to consider is how much the car that you are going to purchase is going to cost to run. Vehicles that have higher running costs are going to cost you more over time and these costs can add up! Smaller engines can be cheaper than bigger engines and petrol is typically cheaper at the pump than diesel. These are all considerations to make when you are looking for the model and specifications of the used car to go for.

Tip 3 – Create a Complete Budget

Following on from tip 2, it’s important to encompass everything that you will be spending on not just a budget for the car itself. I personally like to recommend creating a budget for 1 year of running costs which also includes the cost of the car but you can create a 3 to 6-month budget or even a 1-month budget if this suits you. Ensure to include costs of insurance, the average cost of MOT, a rough estimate of the running costs of the car for the time period, the cost of the car as well as other work that may need to be carried out going down the line. Tax is an important consideration as well as repaying of finance if you go down the finance route. This is really important to ensure that you can afford to run your car after you take the keys.

Tip 4 – Test the Car Before Purchasing

A well known but very important tip is to make sure that you test drive the car before purchasing it. This is key to finding out how the car drives and it’s very hard to assess the condition of the car on a visual inspection alone. Reputable dealers will check vehicles and test them before acquiring the vehicle so this is why it’s very important to visit a reputable dealer. Sometimes it’s hard to detect mistakes and cars that are sitting that are not in constant use can develop underlying issues over time so it’s important to check. Make sure to check for things such as if you are comfortable in the driver’s seat, that you have enough room, that the suspension is correct and smooth on the road, if it veers from one side to the other and that there aren’t any rattling noises coming from the car or engine. You should also perform an emergency stop when & where it is safe to do during the drive to test the brakes.

Tip 5 – Check the History of the Vehicle

You don’t need to carry Sherlock Holmes level of detective work to understand the history of the used car that you are looking to buy. However, it’s important to check the service history, the work that has been done on the car throughout its life and the owner history. It will be easy to tell from the car’s condition as well as what work has been carried out as to whether there are any recurring issues with the car and if anything may need to be carried out in the future. A dealer should have all of the relevant records so avoid purchasing a vehicle that has incomplete or inaccurate records.

Tip 6 – Remember to Arrange for Insurance Before Taking Ownership

You must have insurance in place as soon as you become the legal owner of a vehicle – even if you are not driving it. If anything happens then it is your responsibility as an owner and should an accident happen on the way back from the dealership – you will need insurance in place. It’s illegal to drive without insurance so that is why this is important – when buying from a dealership you may be covered for a week but always check when you pick up your car.

Any tips or ideas not make our list? Do you have a tip that has really helped you when finding a used cars in Bristol? Let us know in the comments below!