How to buy a used car from the right place

2 min

If you’re looking for a new set of wheels but don’t want to fork out a fortune for a brand-spanking model that’s fresh off the production line, then purchasing a used vehicle is the perfect way to go.

And it remains a popular option for drivers up and down the UK, with 7.9 million second-hand cars sold in the country in 2018. If you’re thinking of dipping into the used car market, it’s imperative you do your research first, to ensure you don’t get stung by paying for a rust-heap that’s going to break down when you take it half a mile down the road.

To avoid such pitfalls, carrying out a HPI check can prove a prudent decision, while there are further considerations to be made, such as where to purchase your vehicle from. Weighing up the pros and cons of dealers, auctions or buying privately can become overwhelming, which is why we’ve put together this handy guide to assist you.


Going to a car dealership company can prove beneficial for several reasons.  For example, your new set of wheels is likely to have a warranty and you may be able to use your old car as a makeweight as part of the deal. Your consumer rights are largely protected and you should be able to negotiate, which could make you a significant saving. However, it’s also true that dealers may charge higher prices than private sellers, and if you’re not comfortable with haggling then you may walk away having paid over the odds.


Purchasing privately should mean that you can deal face-to-face with the car’s previous owner and, assuming they are trustworthy, you should receive an honest assessment of its past performance. This method usually works out cheaper than buying from a dealer, while there may also be scope to negotiate and bring the price down. The drawbacks of buying privately are that payment plans will not be an option, you have fewer consumer rights and it’s highly unlikely that the seller will be interested in your old car in a part-exchange.


With both live and online auctions, the possibilities of securing a great deal are much higher and if you do happen to be browsing on the internet, it’s perfectly straightforward to filter your search according to your tastes. However, buying via auctions means your level of legal protection is much lower and you may not have a chance to test drive the vehicle beforehand. Additionally, if you become fixated on one particular model and enter into a bidding war, you may get caught up in the excitement and end up paying well above its true value.

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