Are we in the UK ever going to tire of buying cars? It doesn’t look that way. Despite the Brexit chaos and uncertainties about the future of the economy, drivers in the UK have continued to splurge. It seems we simply can’t live without our four-wheeled companions. And as one of Manchester’s leading car dealers, who are we to complain?
Although the media are obviously focusing on new models, the used car market has been the real backbone of the UK’s car buying appetite. Here, you can find the widest range of models at the best prices. Many buyers have realised that cars are truly built to last these days. And many used vehicles are just as reliable as their factory new counterparts.
Used cars for sale at CCC
At Concept Car Credit, we were able to witness this development first hand. For many years, second hand cars were considered inferior to new ones. As a businesswoman or sales person, you wouldn’t want to be seen driving in one. Even as a student, you’d only go for a used vehicle to save up for a new one.
And then, gradually, things began to change. We started hearing from customers that they really appreciated the wide choice the second hand market offered them. How some of their used cars had turned out to be even better than their new ones. And how they’d driven their car into the ground, with well over 200,000 miles on the odometer being no exception.
If you look into our digital showroom, you’ll see plenty of used cars for sale. They’ve all been thoroughly inspected, cleaned and maintained. And the way things are going at the moment, it does look as though things are going to stay that way for a while.
After all, the UK used car market remains stable
According to the latest data, the used car market may be shrinking just a little bit. But that’s hardly a cause for worry.
In the first quarter of this year, it virtually marked time, with no big ups and downs. In the second quarter, there was a drop by almost 3%. But since the market is still at a very high and healthy level, very few commentators see any reason for real concern.
In some ways, the used car market is in a transition phase. Despite the small decline in overall sales, hybrids and ecars transactions grew considerably. This may mean that consumers are simply considering a switch to a more ecological alternative to petrol cars. Since hybrids are more expensive, drivers will probably need more time to consider and save for this option. In the end, however, the car industry may come out of this as a winner.
Used cars for sale
A steadily growing market is hardly the best place for finding incredible deals. As long as demand remains healthy, you will have to content yourself with small rebates at best. Still, you can always find used cars for sale.
One of the best strategies simply consists in taking your time and waiting for these offers to arrive. The end of the year tends to be the best time to look for deals. Sales staff are eager to clear out their stock to improve their bonuses. And demand is generally higher in the Summer holiday season anyway.
Waiting a little longer also allows you to save a little more and put down a larger deposit. This alone can considerably improve the conditions of your car finance deal.
But there are other aspects you should take into consideration as well. One of them is where to buy your car. After all, not all options were created equal in this regard.
Online: Not for everyone
It is a sign of the times that you can buy absolutely anything online now. First, there were CDs. Then came clothes. And then, everything was possible, from food via designer objects to entire houses.
Cars have been one of the biggest growth markets for the online industry. This may seem counter intuitive. After all, cars are very expensive and hard to evaluate from a distance. But sellers have resolved these issues by offering rock bottom prices and including additional guarantees such as car check certificates, close-up photography and user reviews.
Despite all this, the web may not be the best place to look for used cars for sale. For one, you will find plenty of great deals, but many of them will be far away from home. Also, the sheer amount of deals can be tiring and confusing. It is also very hard comparing all these different ads and finding out which is really best for you. You’re not the only one looking, either. In the end, you will usually need to take a quick, and possibly rash decision after all.
All of this means that online car sales are not for everyone.
Private sales: Only for experts
Private sales used to be a lot more popular than they are today. In fact, they used to be the most popular way to sell your car and the papers were filled to the brim with car classifieds each morning. The rise of the Internet has changed that. Most people prefer the anonymity of the web to the potentially confrontational nature of one on one sales talk.
That said, there is still a quite sizeable private sales market. If you’re prepared to haggle, both sellers and buyers can profit here, as there is no middle man. And not all sales conversations need to be unpleasant. Sometimes, you’ll get a few anecdotes for good measure which can deepen your relationship with the vehicle in question.
Would we recommend private sales, though? Not unless you are a true car buff. The risk is higher than with any other sales channel here, your legal protection almost non-existent. If you know your way around cars, private sales may be a great way of finding used cars for sale. If you don’t, then avoid them at all cost.
Dealerships: Your best bet
Dealerships are still the best places to find used cars for sale in the UK. That may be hard to believe for some. Dealers, after all, don’t exactly enjoy a stellar reputation. But a lot has changed over the past few years:
- Dealerships have begin to introduce ruthless quality control measures. Customer service has improved. Used cars are generally in a much better condition and aftercare is excellent these days. There is a far more ethical approach to the business, which benefits buyers and dealers alike.
- Dealers have discovered ways to offer fair car finance at great prices. Since finance is one of the most important aspects of any car deal, this has made them a lot more attractive as your one stop used car location.
- Thanks to affordable car- and background checks, you can now do a lot prior to the actual transaction to ensure you’re on the safe side.
- Online competition has kept dealers on their toes when it comes to prices. In fact, many dealers now have ebay-shops and digital showrooms to compete with online sellers at eye level.
- There is plenty of background information to be found, including Parkers’ Car Valuation, among others.
Here, too, it helps to check in regularly and wait patiently for the best deal to come along.
What to watch out for
As mentioned, you can now get affordable car check-ups at many different providers. The AAA and the RCA, for example, have car check experts working for them that can give you peace of mind.
Still, it is by no means mandatory that you ask an outside party to inspect a potentially interesting used car for sale. Instead, you can draw a lot of conclusions by taking a look at the most basic parameters of a car.
The following points alone can be enough to take an informed decision.
Mileage: Avoid very high or very low
Mileage is usually considered less important than age when it comes to gauging the condition of a used car. That is a mistake. If you combine mileage with age, you get a pretty good picture of how a particular model has been driven. Very low mileages are probably the worst indication, as cars need to be driven quite a bit to stay in great shape. Very high mileages in a very short time frame are also problematic.
Don’t be scared off by an odometer reading of more than 100,000 miles, however. Cars can easily be driven for this much or more these days.
Condition: Three vital points
Many vehicle inspection checklists have over a hundred different points which are minutely tested by a mechanic. But do you really need to be this thorough?
Often, it is more than enough to focus on three points:
- Visual check-up: Look for scratches or wear and tear in general. Ask about anything that catches your attention, including a paint job or brand-new foot mats which may be used to cover something up.
- Engine: Take a look if the engine looks clean and has enough oils and fluids.
- Test drive: Take the car for a spin and test it in many different circumstances. Drive it very fast and very slow, take a sharp turn and drive uphill.
If the car can not fully convince you during the test drive, you should probably stay away from it.
Age of the car: Safety first
The age of the car these days doesn’t really tell you quite that much anymore. Cars are built to last for many years. You can safely buy a 15 year old model without having to be afraid that it will fall apart straight away.
The age of the car can matter, however, in terms of its safety features. Make a list of what you consider essential functionalities in this regard and check if the model in question has them.
Also, the age of the car can provide you with useful insights when compared with other aspects, such as the condition and mileage.
Insurance / MOT / Background check: Paying for themselves
If a deal seems to good to be true, it usually is. This simple wisdom applies to used cars for sale as well. Thankfully, you have plenty of tools at your disposal to avoid unpleasant surprises:
- You can check the current MOT status and previous repairs for free online. This can reveal a lot about potential weak spots and the way former drivers have treated the car.
- You can check the current insurance status of the car for free online. Although this tends to be okay, especially if you’re buying from a dealer, it certainly doesn’t hurt to make sure.
- A car background check is an absolute must, if only to verify there is no outstanding debt on it (#1 source of problems) or that it has been written off and then repaired.
Checking thee things may cost you a few Pounds and time. But both will definitely pay for themselves in the end.
The best models: Some basic advice
So much for the theory. Let’s now become a bit more concrete and take a look at what kind of cars you should be looking at. Generally speaking, if you’re looking for used cars for sale, you should take the following thoughts into consideration:
- Don’t look for too popular models. To get the best deals you can’t be looking at the cars that everyone wants. There are plenty of ‘un-sexy’ cars out there that are actually quite great to drive and reliable to boot. Make these your priority.
- Prioritise functionality rather than looks: It is easy to see why the Mini has won over so many drivers. It looks incredible and like a lot of fun to drive. But is it really the right car for you? Does it offer enough interior space for your entire family? For your dog? Isn’t it a tad too expensive for what you actually need? If you want a great deal, don’t forget about your actual needs and requirements.
- Age: There is a sweet spot where age and mileage combine into the best possible prices. Make sure you catch your car at this sweet spot. Usually, it will be around the eight year mark, when depreciation has tapered off, but the car is still new enough to be a great deal.
If you want even more hands-on advice about particular models, you can find plenty of online overviews. One of them that makes a lot of sense are the What Car used car of the year awards. These are generally based on true quality and offer excellent inspiration for anyone looking for used cars for sale in the UK.
Second hand car finance: Slim choice
Last but not least, we need to talk about money. A used car deal without car finance won’t get you anywhere. That’s why you should always approach these two things at the same time.
When it comes to new cars, the choice of car finance options can be dizzying. On the second hand market, things are slightly simpler. Obviously, you can still go to a bank for a private loan. Banks, however, have become more and more reluctant to extend loans to lesser well-off households. This means your chances are slim and the hassle may not be worth it.
Then, there have been attempts at translating some of the more successful concept of the new car scene to second hand models. PCPs and leasing for used cars are still pretty exotic concepts, though, and they don’t strike us as particularly useful.
Which leaves dealer finance
Ultimately, the dealer will be the person to talk to first when it comes to used car finance. This makes sense, in a way, after all, the dealer also gets the entire profit from the sale of the car, which is usually more than they’d get from a new car sale. So they will try everything to win you over.
There is absolutely nothing inherently bad about dealer finance. Instead, focus on what you can afford, work out your maximum monthly rate and then stick to it.
At CCC, we have many, many years of experience with used car finance. We focus particularly on those who may not be able to get a car loan elsewhere and can offer highly individual deals. If you’re looking for used cars for sale, talk to us now. We are more than happy to assist you and help you find the car of your dreams. Take our free car finance check now.