We’d all love to drive around in a shiny new car all of the time. But, it’s not always an option. New cars are costly, not always value for money and sometimes preposterously expensive to insure and tax. Used cars make a great alternative. They’re cheaper, worn in, often still in fantastic condition as people swap their relatively new car for an even newer one as soon as they can, and certainly the perfect option for those on a budget and brand-new drivers alike.

This means used car sales have always been high, and it’s definitely a fantastic option that shouldn’t be overlooked when shopping for a car. But, as when buying anything second hand, there are a few things that you should consider before making your investment.

Mileage

One of the first things that we look at when viewing a used car is its mileage. With care, your car can last for over 200000 miles, and the average life of a newer car is now over 11 years. But, once over 100000 miles are on the clock, the vehicle could start to show more signs of wear and tear and need more parts replacing. If the car that you are looking at has a large millage, this should be reflected in the price.

Previous Owners

Miles aren’t all equal. If the care that you are looking at has had one previous owner that’s only ever used it for school runs, shopping trips and around town, it might be in much better condition than one that’s had multiple owners and been driven up and down the country.

Previous Work

The current owner will be able to provide you with the vehicle identification number. You can use this to take a good look at the cars history. You’ll be able to see who’s driven it, and any previous repairs that have been done. But, know what you are looking for. A new clutch, once a few years ago isn’t necessarily an issue. Lots of repairs or the same repair on multiple occasions, however, should be a red flag.

Appearance

Before searching through the cars history, take a good look at it. Walk around the car, look for dents, scratches and bumps. Look for changes in paintwork that have obviously been touched up. Look inside at the upholstery and floors and don’t forget to inspect the truck and the spare tire. Then, take a look under the hood, and if you can, underneath the car. Ask about anything that doesn’t look right and find out how much it would cost you to repair.

Ask Questions

Buying a car, even a used one, is a large expense. You want to know that it’s going to last for a long time, and not cost you a fortune in repairs in the coming years. So, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Whether you are buying privately or from a dealer, ask anything that you need to, and start worrying if you don’t get answers.

If you aren’t sure what to look for or don’t have much experience with cars, take someone else with you for a second opinion.

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Emily Muelford

Emily is a British writer whose love of car culture is augmented by a fascination with both the European and American automotive markets. Her perspective is uniquely fish and chips.

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