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What to know before buying a used car

If you’re in the market for your first car or just need an upgrade, you may be considering buying a used car. While they can save you money, there are a few things to be aware of if you want to avoid a regretful purchase.

What will it be used for?

1 in 5 drivers crash within a year of passing their test so if you’re a new driver, your best bet is to go with a used car as your first car. Spending £1000’s on a brand new top-of-the-range vehicle just to crash or bump it is a waste of money and when combined with expensive new driver insurance, your car could end up costing you a fortune. 

Consider what is important to you when buying your car. You may want a family car, so you will need a bigger vehicle with comfortable seats, legroom in the back, and plenty of boot space. If you are more concerned about having a hybrid or eco-friendly car then make a note of that and speak to car dealerships or search online to see what they have on offer. You will be surprised at the high spec of many used cars nowadays and you will have plenty of choices no matter what your preferences. 


A brand-new car will depreciate in value by 40% in its first year, so opting for a used car is a great way to save some money. You may find yourself with some budget leftover from what you would spend on a new car and be able to then treat yourself to a newer model which is a win-win!

You should do some research before heading to a local dealership and consider the prices of the various models you are interested in. You may also want to see how much insurance would be for your new potential vehicle as around 24% of buyers don’t get a quote before buying and you may end up with a model that has insurance premiums outside of your budget.


Doing the proper checks when buying a used car can help to save you distress and money later on if anything does happen. Auctions are one of the riskiest ways to buy a used car and should be avoided unless you, or someone you know, have a keen interest in mechanics as you are unlikely to have the protection that comes with buying from a car dealership.

Before you buy a car you should check the car’s details with the DVLA. If you ask the seller for the car’s MOT test number, mileage, make and model and registration number you can use the DVLA’s free online vehicle checker to ensure that the details of the car are correct. If the details don’t match, the car has likely been stolen, badly damaged or illegally altered. You should always take a car for a test drive before committing to buy it and you should look to inspect the car in daylight. There are many free checklists online which will give you a rundown on what to check on the outside of the car and its driving functions before you purchase. This will ensure that you are buying a car that is likely reliable and is a good fit for your lifestyle.