Buying a used car makes financial sense for a lot of people. You avoid the high prices of a brand-new vehicle and get to own the model you want for your budget. Maybe you’ve not been driving long and don’t want to invest in something too expensive until you’ve built up your driving experience.
Or perhaps you’re looking to downsize your vehicle to something smaller and cheaper to run, and a used car fits the bill. There are plenty of benefits to shopping on the used car market and there are some great deals to be had, but there are some downsides too.
While service and MOT histories provide an insight into the car, such as how well taken care of it’s been and the types of issues it’s had in the past, you can never know exactly what a vehicle has been through.
Even cars that have been in bad accidents will only show Cat N (nonstructural damage) and Cat S (structural damage) if they were written off by an insurer. If any previous owner opted to have the damage fixed privately, you’ll be none the wiser. While this isn’t the norm, it is something to be aware of so inspect your used car as carefully as you can.
The other big downside to buying a used car is that the parts will already be used, and some might be worn and need to be replaced soon after purchasing. Many used car garages do offer a short warranty on parts such as the engine and gearbox, so if you want added peace of mind it can be worth going down this route rather than buying from a private seller.
Used cars can also sometimes be financed cars that people have sold without clearing their remaining balance. If this happens then the finance company can still come and take the car back, even if you’ve purchased it legally. For this reason, it’s crucial to do a HPI check before signing on the dotted line.
Don’t let the downsides put you off buying a used car- most of these types of sales are smooth and free of issues. But it’s worth knowing and being aware of so you can do your research.
The car you buy might not be brand new but it’s still new to you. You still get that feeling of novelty and pride after buying your car, and most people will want to smarten it up as much as possible and make it feel personal to them. Here are five ways you can go about it.
Take it for a full service
It makes sense to give your used car a full service once you’ve bought it. This way you know that the lights, wipers, fluids, suspension, seatbelts, and other areas on the car are all safe and working correctly.
If there are any potential issues they’ll be spotted and resolved there and then, rather than driving around and waiting for anything to go wrong. It gives you peace of mind and generally ensures that everything is up to scratch and ready for you to drive.
Change the tyres
Giving the tyres a thorough check is important when you’re buying a used car. Use a tread gauge to check the tyre depth and make sure they meet the minimum legal level in your country.
Check the tyre pressure too, your car’s manual will have information about what this number should be so be sure to take a look. If the tyres are wearing thin, you can spot damage or if anything doesn’t seem right then replace the tyre. It’s an expense, but if you replace all four tyres at the same time they’ll wear more evenly and perform better overall.
Taking your car to a wheel alignment garage to ensure that everything is lined up correctly is a worthwhile step, as this can help to keep your tyres in good condition as well as improve the handling and performance of the car.
Have it professionally cleaned
Giving your used car a thorough clean makes good sense. Hopefully, the previous seller or garage would have been good enough to give it a clean and tidy before selling, but cars can get grimy. If they owned pets and children then you might have hair and food messes, spills, or stains that need professional cleaning.
Treat your car to a professional valet, it will make it look it’s very best and give it that ‘new car smell’, even though it’s not new. Regular car cleaning is important to avoid damage such as rust, it also allows you to take pride in your vehicle. Even used cars are expensive so it makes sense to take good care of what you’ve purchased.
Check out the key
Replacing your car key battery is another small thing you can do when you buy a used vehicle. That way you know for sure when it was last replaced, and don’t have to worry about it going flat for some time.
A lot of key companies have deals where when you replace your car key battery, they will give you free replacements for as long as you own the vehicle. So it’s something to look into, especially if you don’t want the hassle of trying to replace it yourself. If you only bought the car with one key, it could be worth having a replacement made so you have a spare too.
Add some personal touches
Finally, adding some personal touches to a used car helps it to feel like your own. You could buy private plates, add alloy wheels, or a body kit like a spoiler depending on the style of car or the look you’re going for. New car mats can add another personal touch and help it look better inside, especially if the ones that came with the car were in particularly bad condition. Finish with a car air freshener in your favorite scent, and your used car feels personal to you.