How to protect yourself when buying a used car

It's the same for all of us. Whenever we buy a used car there's always that nagging doubt at the back of our mind. 

Just how can we be completely sure that we're not being taken for a ride? And how can we be sure that the car we're buying won't break down after just a few miles?

The simple answer is that there are no absolute guarantees that any used car purchase will be completely trouble-free - but it's the same with brand new cars too, as any car can give problems.

Buying from a used car dealer

If you buy a used car from a dealer you’ll have a warranty, even if it’s just for a few months.

However, any dealer has overheads so you’ll always pay more if you take this route - but if you do have problems they'll hopefully still be trading so you can pin them down in a bid to get their help.

Depending on the car’s age and mileage, the warranty may not be a very good one so read the small print and make sure that you know what’s covered. 

When it comes to buying privately, you need to have your wits about you

Buying privately

When it comes to buying privately, you need to have your wits about you. There are plenty of dealers masquerading as private sellers and working from home.

When you phone up, ask about ‘the car for sale’ without specifying which one. If they need clarification, they’ve clearly got several vehicles up for grabs.

A few simple rules can save you a lot of bother:

  • Don’t buy a car from someone who will only give you a mobile number, because they’ll probably be untraceable if something major goes wrong.
  • If a specific time is given for calls to be made, it’s probably because the seller is using a public phone box. Phone outside the specified time and see who answers.
  • Don’t look at a car in the rain or at night – the paintwork always looks great in these conditions.
  • Insist on visiting the seller’s house to inspect the car; ensure this is at the address on the registration document.
  • Weigh up how well kept the owner is along with their house and garden. If they take no care of themselves or where they live, it’s unlikely they’ll have cherished their car.