How to buy a used car: introduction

There are around two million new car sales each year in the UK – but about four times as many used cars change hands. Many of those vehicles have some ‘history’, so you need to ensure that you don’t buy one that’s worn out or been pranged – or one which has outstanding finance on it.

If you read these pages you can minimise the risk of buying a duffer, but as some of the information that relates to buying a used car also relates to buying new, make sure you also check out our new car buying advice pages. 

If something appears too good to be true, it almost certainly is

If you buy a used car privately, you’re not in as strong a position as if you buy the car from a trader – but there are still ways that you can redress the balance. The key thing to remember is that if something appears too good to be true, it almost certainly is.

Because there are two peaks in the new car market (1 March and 1 September), there are lots more used cars around at these times. Consequently, dealers are keen to sell these trade-ins as quickly as possible, so think about buying your used car at one of these times when supply is usually greater than demand.