Buying a car is never easy. There are so many things to consider, so many points to take care of, so many potential pitfalls. If there’s one thing that’s even more complex than buying a car, however, it must be buying a used car.

Here, entirely different rules apply. You’ll need to be doubly careful, check everything twice and ideally bring along a second pair of eyes to your visit to the dealer. At the same time, times have never been better for second hand vehicles and more and more UK drivers are finding great used car deals. If you, too, are interest in a used car, here are the best buying tips to help you avoid costly mistakes.

Buying tips for a used car #1: Avoid the three Cs

We really don’t want to scare you, because outright fraud has become rare on the UK used car market. And yet, you should at least be aware of the three Cs that can turn buying a used car into a nightmare:

  • Clocking: Changing the meter for a smaller mileage.
  • Cloning: Changing the number plate to make you believe you’re buying a different – less old – vehicle.
  • Cut and Shut: Welding together different older parts into a brand-new looking car.

These tactics may be rare, but they’re still around. By turning towards a respectable dealer instead of buying car from a private seller, many of these issues can be avoided.

Buying tips for a used car #2: Create a target list

By focussing too much on a single model, you are reducing your chances of a favourable deal. After all, every good dealer will sense your preferences and put them to their advantage. But there’s another good reason for being less picky: There are many excellent cars on the market, which are excellent, but  simply not particularly popular. This can be good for you, since you can get great value for your money. Create a list of at least three models from different brands and try to get a deal for one of them.

Buying tips for a used car #3: Determine your budget

Creating a target list of suitable models and determining your budget should go hand in hand. After all, it may be romantic to dream of buying a Rolls Royce or Porsche, but it’s not particularly useful if you have a bad credit rating. When determining how much money you can spend, you should not never only look at the retail price of the car. Make sure to take insurance costs, potential repairs and any other fees into consideration as well.

Buying tips for a used car #4: Check the dealer

Dealers don’t hold a very high reputation. That’s unfair, since most of them truly want to sell you the best possible car at a reasonable price. This notwithstanding, it can’t be denied that a few black sheep have seriously dented the entire industry’s image.

When entering into negotiations, you’re never merely buying a car, you’re buying a relationship with a seller. Simply by speaking to your dealer, you can learn a lot about their way of doing business and about how much they are willing to meet your demands.

Buying tips for a used car #5: Check the car

Needless to say, inspecting the vehicle is the most important part of every used car deal. There are many different things to inspect and we’ve written about this at length in a previous blog post. Whatever you do, take your time and don’t rush in – impulse purchases are rarely a good basis.

Buying tips for a used car #6: Test-drive the car

Even the most thorough inspection is worth little without a short test drive. This is not so much about detecting any faults, even though a test drive can obviously helpful in that regard, too. Rather, it is about whether or not you really enjoy driving the car and could imagine spending several years with it.