The Consumer’s Guide to Navigating the Used Car Market

Planning to purchase a used car but unsure where to begin? There are many advantages to buying a pre-owned vehicle, but navigating the used car market can be challenging. Follow this step-by-step guide to find the best value option that will be a safe and secure investment for your future.

The pros and cons of buying a used car

The main benefit of buying a used car is that it is more cost-effective than purchasing a new model. Even used cars as little as a few months old have a significantly lower purchase price than a brand-new vehicle. This lower value means that they also have a relatively reduced depreciation rate.

One of the commonly cited cons is worse fuel efficiency, as used cars have more mileage and older technology. Buyers can be less confident in the safety and functionality of a used vehicle as well due to uncertainty about the previous owners.

Finding a reliable vehicle

Especially if you are buying your first car or only do limited driving, a used model is a sensible purchase. Finding a reliable vehicle is key, however, so make sure to prioritise these factors:

1. Vehicle history

Check the service history of the car carefully to see if it has had all of the necessary inspections. There should be a record of at least one service per year, performed by a licensed professional. You should also check the MOT status and history of the vehicle before driving off.

An incomplete or no service history indicates that the previous owner may have not taken care of the car correctly, and repairs may be needed. Manufacturers can also void the warranty (if applicable) if there’s no service history.

2. Model reliability

Consider model reliability as well and prioritise brands that have a good reputation for cars that function well for a long period of time. It may even be worth spending some time researching reviews from other motorists and official performance reports on particular models. Avoid brands that are known for frequent faults as this could reduce the resale value of your car in the future.

3. Approved cars

Approved used cars are cherry-picked models identified as the cream of the crop by dealers for their low mileage. These vehicles are given a thorough inspection by the manufacturer before going on sale, a check that covers 100 different elements.

Searching for a certified model from a reliable company such as manufacturer-approved used Vauxhall cars for sale gives you more peace of mind in the purchasing process.

4. Inspections

Even if you are prioritising approved cars that have been comprehensively checked, you should carry out your own vehicle inspections before you commit to buying.

Key things to investigate with a used car include checking the condition of the tyres, windscreen and paintwork, the function of the electrics, the fluid levels and oil cap, any accessories, and the interior.

Costs beyond the price tag

Bear in mind that, while a used car is more affordable initially, there are costs beyond the price tag to consider.

Maintenance costs are often higher with a pre-owned vehicle, and these will increase as the car ages and its initial functionality declines. You may also be limited to higher rates of insurance.


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