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How to buy second hand cars

Buying a used car or vehicle can be rife with problems, especially if you are unlucky enough to get caught by a less than honest seller. How do you know that you are buying a reliable vehicle, or that the salesperson is telling the truth in his or her smooth patter? One way to bypass these worries is to go to a reputable used car dealer and speak to the salespeople there, who will help you find the right vehicle for your needs from amongst a wide range of vehicles to suit all needs. Here are some things to look out for when buying second hand.

Know your budget

Never go to look at a second hand car, or to browse round a used car dealership without knowing exactly how much you have got to spend, and how far you can go up to during price negotiations. Factor in ongoing costs, such as insurance, road tax, petrol and servicing to avoid a nasty shock later on. Don’t let your heart rule your head – if you fall in love with a certain make or model, wait for a while to see if a similar car comes onto the market at a lower price.

Prepare in advance

Do your homework and work out what type of car you are looking for and how much it is likely to cost second hand. Decide what extras are important to you, such as air con, sat nav, heated seats etc. Search online for reviews of similar cars, but do bear in mind that people tend to post online when they are dissatisfied a lot more readily than after an incident-free, positive sale. Never buy a car unseen – always look at it in the flesh and examine it for faults. Take it for a test drive too, to make sure it suits you when out on the road.

See it at its best

Avoid viewing prospective cars at night or in the rain, fog or other poor weather conditions. You won’t get a full picture of what the car looks like and, most importantly, if it has any faults such as scratches, dents, leaks or patches of rust. Look at the car from all angles, inside and out, and make sure you open the boot, glove compartment and bonnet to check for damage. Never let yourself be hurried over a viewing either – an honest salesperson will let you look at your leisure and ask all the questions you want.

Ask questions

As mentioned above, you should feel free to ask any questions you wish and to walk away of you are unhappy with the answers. Ask about service history, especially any gaps in the records. Check for outstanding finance or evidence that the vehicle may have been stolen ringed or involved in a crime. Does the mileage match the condition of the car and if not, can you find out why? Is the handbook still in the car and is there a spare key? All these questions will help you decide if the previous owner has cared for the car properly or not before you commit.


Car buying for the older driver

As a driver, we tend to look for a car or vehicle that suits our situation at the time of the purchase. So a young, newly qualified driver will not choose the same car as a family of six and someone approaching, or already into retirement will again choose something different.

Older drivers looking for a second-hand car, therefore, would be well advised to begin searching for their next car at used car dealers, as opposed to just going online. You can see a wide range of cars at once, and ‘in the flesh’ and can ask all the questions you need about the cars you like and their performance.

Here are some areas to consider when choosing a car for an older driver.


Being comfortable while you drive is a good thing crucial at any age, but it becomes crucial for older drivers, who might spend longer in the car than in previous years due to reduced mobility, the need to attend more appointments or having the freedom to take off on driving holidays and mini-breaks more often. Seeking a comfortable car means that you will need to physically sit inside it to see how it feels, and also pay attention to such matters as leg room, seat shape and ease of getting in and out. Never buy a car without seeing and sitting in it.


For many older drivers, having a car can be a lifeline to ongoing independence and socialising. So when it goes wrong, life can suddenly grind to a halt in an alarming fashion. Some older people will also be helping to care for grandchildren and again, a reliable car is vital in these endeavours. Being able to ask questions and view the entire service history at a used car dealer is therefore very important for peace of mind. Cars that are still under extended warranty can also be an attractive option.

Space and size

What room do you have to put your new car? A large garage or a narrow driveway? This is something to consider when choosing your next vehicle. Also, what is the parking like at the places you plan to drive it? Choosing a large car that you cannot park easily can cause stress at a time when you are doubtless seeking to reduce your worries. Do you need a large boot if you are planning to go travelling in the car? Does it need to be strong enough to attach a caravan or bear the weight of a loaded roof rack?

Red tape

Finally, do some research into what it will cost to insure your chosen make and model, especially for drivers over 50 years old. Premiums can soar for older drivers, depending on the type of vehicle they are looking to insure. On the other hand, other companies actively reward careful older drivers with a flawless record, so take the time to find an insurance company that will offer you a reasonable price that reflects your experience.