A cheap car is a car which doesn’t cost a lot, right?
If you’re looking for an affordable vehicle, you should give this question a little more thought than that. Because the truth will surprise you:
The price a car is sold at only tells half the story. There are plenty of other factors to consider. And if you don’t, you could end up paying a lot more than you were prepared to.
In this article we’ll show you how to avoid getting ripped off. Separating the truly cheap cars from the only seemingly cheap ones isn’t hard. You just need to know and apply the five insights mentioned in our article.
Ready to prevent disaster and save some serious money? Then read on …
Why a cheap car can turn out to be pretty expensive.
When buying a car, there are usually two points to consider:
- Quality and
These two aspects are closely tied to each other. High-quality cars have high prices. Low-quality cars have low prices. If you want to save money on a car, you are going to have to make compromises. Or, if you want to get the very best, you will need to pay more.
It’s that simple.
When it comes to used cars, meanwhile, some people seem to believe that this rule no longer applies. They appear to believe that you can suddenly get a really cheap car which also happens to be amazing.
This, unfortunately, is not the case.
You really get what you pay for.
Imagine spotting a car for £800. That’s a really good price for sure. But is it really a cheap car?
That depends. What we mean by this is this: A car can only truly be classified as cheap if it is of reasonable quality. What use is a car which only costs you £800 to buy, but another £800 to repair?
Maybe you can instead get a car which costs £1,200 but drives fine and needs to further maintenance. What at first sounds like a worse deal can turn out to be a lot better.
The real challenge is telling which factors to take into consideration when determining the real price of a car.
So here are some of the main points that, if applicable, make a cheap car truly cheap.
#1 No major repairs required
When you buy a cheap car, you implicitly accept that it’s not perfect. And it goes without saying that you should definitely set aside a few hundred Pounds just in case.
But that doesn’t mean that the exhaust pipe should fall off the second you drive off the dealership. Or that the motor leaks gas from day one. Or that the onboard entertainment system breaks down after a week.
Horror stories like these are the reason so many drivers in the UK are still weary of buying cheap.
Which is a shame, because you’ll miss out on many excellent opportunities.
If you’re not enough of an expert to spot defects yourself, take a knowledgeable friend to test drive the vehicle. Or ask an independent mechanic to inspect it. Few sellers will object to this.
It also obviously helps to know a little bit about the cars you want to buy. Thanks to the Internet, educating yourself shouldn’t be a big problem. Take this excellent primer on classic 80s cars.
#2 Decent petrol consumption
Sure, you can get really old cars at bargain prices. Models from the 80s especially can be terrific deals.
Here’s the problem, though: Petrol consumption of most of these cars is usually beyond the pale. They were designed when engineers knew far less about aerodynamics and drivers cared far less about ecology. And so, they tended to guzzle gas as if there were no tomorrow.
You could shrug your shoulders, of course. But these days, it is not just ecologically irresponsible to drive such a car. It is also financially unattractive. Petrol costs can undo a lot of the savings you’ve made.
All of this means that buying a car with high petrol consumption is an issue if you really want to save money. If you’re curious to find out more: Auto Express have put together an overview of the most fuel efficient used cars currently available.
#3 Moderate insurance premium
Few car buyers take the cost of insuring the vehicle into consideration. Perhaps that’s because they’re not aware that differences in premium can be considerable.
In fact, insurance is one of the most underestimated cost factors.
Obviously, there’s not a lot you can do about cost factors such as your age or gender and your previous driving history. But the age of the car, for example, as well as its mileage, can lead to vastly different premiums. And these are things you can personally decide upon.
Importantly, too, so will the model type. It is useful to know that especially many models deemed ‘great first cars’ are particularly expensive to insure. The reason is simple: Precisely because so many younger drivers use them, they tend to be involved in accidents more often.
If you can get a car at a very cheap price, make sure to check how much you’ll have to pay for insurance. The results may make you reconsider.
#4 Red Flags
It goes without saying that you should thoroughly check a car before committing to a purchase.
Granted, that won’t be easy at the moment. Corona has turned the traditional buying process upside down. Even such a simple thing as a test drive is no longer possible anymore. And your opportunities for inspecting the car are obviously limited when browsing online.
That said, there are a few red flags which you should avoid and which won’t require you to inspect the car in person.
Autowise lists the following:
- Insanely low mileage: Curiously, cars which are driven too little tend to experience more issues than cars that have been driven a lot. An unrealistically low mileage can also point to odometer tampering. Either way, it’s bad news.
- Salvage titles: Sometimes, a car gets damaged so badly that, in terms of its insurance, it is considered a total loss. This results in a write-off – the car isn’t worth anything anymore in theory. You could, however, still drive such a car. But unless you spend a lot of time and money on it, it won’t be safe doing so.
- Environmental damage: You don’t want your car to be a horrible polluter, do you?
- Rust and corrosion: Do cars still rust? Absolutely! Just not as badly as they once did. Rust spots can usually be seen if you zoom in on the paint job even on Internet pictures. Whenever possible, also check underneath the car. This is where most of the hidden rust tends to accumulate.
- Water damage: One of the worst kinds of damages, because it all but renders the car unusable. Can usually be detected on photos (minus potential smell).
Have you read:
The 5 ONLY ways to determine if your mileage is genuine.
Obviously, bad tyres should also be on your list of red flags. Nonetheless, we single them out here for a reason.
For one, bad tyres are a very typical issue with many cheap cars. This is because replacing a complete set of tyres is expensive. If you need to do this right after buying a used car, it instantly adds to your purchasing price.
Secondly, the way tyres wear is indicative of how well or badly a driver has treated her car. According to the AA, front tyres should have roughly 20,000 miles in them, rear tyres about 40,000. If the wear on the tyres seems excessive for the mileage, this is a hint at a rather reckless driving style.
Also, some sellers like to take off still new tyres and replace them with cheap older ones. This is a hard to spot trick, but you can avoid the worst by giving everything a through look-over.
So … is it impossible to find a really cheap car?
Thankfully, no. In reality, you can still get a great deal. You will, however, have to become more knowledgeable to make use of them.
If you’re serious about saving money, there are a few facts you need to take in:
- Today’s cars can easily last 100,000-200,000 miles. This means they depreciate slower, but also retain their driving value for longer. If you want to significantly reduce the price, you will need to start looking for cars older than 10-12 years with high mileages.
- Even though some cars are undeniably more reliable than others, almost all available models are pretty great. Even less popular brands and models offer fantastic value. It just so happens that some are more popular than others and can thus command higher prices. This means that if you accept that some cars are simply off limit, you can get astounding deals.
- In the old days, used cars often had very visible issues: Huge rust spots, doors which almost fell off, botched paint jobs, motors which all but fell apart. Today, defects are typically far more hidden and very few of us still have the expertise to spot them.
What this means is: You’ll need to adjust your strategy a bit. We’ll take a look at that in a separate blog article.
If you’re interested in very affordable car deals with simple and accessible finance, talk to us now. Concept Car Credit is helping thousands of UK drivers to get behind the wheel again.
Contact us now at 0800 093 3385.