Buying a used car: 10 tips for saving money and choosing the right car

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Expert advice on what to check when buying used, from history and accidental damage to dealer reputation and warranties

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With demand so high and sellers able to charge more for used cars, it’s more important than ever that buyers do their research and take a few basic steps to ensure they’re getting a good deal.

With that in mind, we spoke to Mike Todd, CEO of Volkswagen Financial Services, for his top tips for making your money work harder when buying a used car.

Compare sellers

Prices can vary between large franchises, independent retailers, and private sellers, so it’s important to also consider the reputation of the seller to determine if they are a reliable part. Always spend time doing your research.

Compare prices and check financing offers

Do your research and consider comparing prices before going to a retailer or private seller. Current prices can be obtained through online retailer portals and other websites. Also use online finance calculators, and once you know a ballpark figure, you’ll be in a better position to negotiate a good deal.

It’s worth researching a dealer’s reputation before deciding to buy from them.

A picture is worth a thousand words

When researching a vehicle online, image quality and quantity can say a lot about the car and the seller without actually seeing it in the flesh. Very few images may suggest the seller is trying to hide something.

Checking history

Take precautions rather than assuming a car is in perfect condition. Make sure you have a good overall idea of ​​a vehicle’s condition by carefully reviewing its history report. The key indicators of a premium model are low mileage, full service history, low number of previous owners, and passing all HPI checks. Always check if the vehicle has been in an accident or has had previous modifications in terms of auto parts.

Check for wear and damage

Don’t take the seller’s word that the car is intact or has never been repaired. Attention to detail is paramount and should be the focus of the buyer’s attention when checking for hidden signs of repair. Indicators can come in all shapes and sizes, from doors that are difficult to open and close, to imperfections or mismatched paint.

Tire test

Before you even attempt to drive a car, take a close look at its tires. Disproportionate tire tread may suggest the tracking is not straight and needs to be corrected. You may also notice this while driving as the car may drift left or right. Other signs of neglect or wear may include cracked, bald, or dry rubber on the tires. Inexpensive brand name tires may also indicate that the previous owner skimped on other areas of maintenance.

Uneven tire wear can be a sign of more serious mechanical problems

Get a second opinion

It can never hurt to have a second pair of eyes to check out a vehicle before buying it. If you have a friend or family member who is a mechanic, ask them for advice or consider having a professional inspection done. It’s always wise to lift the hood and have someone take a look, even if you’re not sure what you’re looking at yourself.

Preparation for the road

The availability of a vehicle to view or test can also be a reason for further investigation. A car that is not available almost immediately can raise suspicion if no explanation is given.

Extended warranty

Some used vehicles come with an extended warranty, which can help you save on future repairs. If not, it’s important to consider whether the extra cost of finding a car with warranty is worth it if something goes wrong.

Check your credit score

Your credit score is an assessment by a particular lender or credit reference company of your level of credit risk, based on its own criteria. However, a good score does not guarantee that you will be able to borrow money, as different lenders have different criteria for choosing clients.

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