Take the stress out of buying a second car with our insider guide and top picks for 2019
As satisfying as it would be to own a brand new 19-plate car, buying used can save you a lot of money.
Opting for a used car means that you won’t suffer the initial depreciation that the first owner experienced. Depreciation slows down dramatically after the first 3 years, making it easy to buy a pre-owned car that will retain its value.
Buying second hand gives you much more choice when it comes finding a car with all the spec you would want from new without the hefty price tag.
However, it is vital that you thoroughly do your research when buying a used car, as price and quality can vary dramatically.
Here's our pick of the best used cars available on the market, followed by some top tips on getting a great deal.
Kia Cee’d – Under £8K
Kia has a great reputation and comes with one of the best warranties available on the market. They provide a seven year/100,000 mile warranty which is fully transferable between owners.
The Cee’d is a fab family hatchback with plenty of space inside so the whole family can travel in comfort.
Keep an eye out for models in the 3 trim level as they include touchscreen sat-nav, dual-zone climate control, and alloy wheels.
Dacia Duster SUV – Under £8K
For those who prefer an SUV to a hatchback for a family car, then the Dacia Duster is one of the best value SUVs available.
A generous boot and plenty of room inside, it’s perfect to get everyone in without feel cramped.
With a slow depreciation value, the Duster has always been good value. It’s not quite as tech savvy as some of the others on our list, and it’s more functional than fashionable on the inside, however, it’s a comfortable drive.
Try to find a mid-range ambiance spec to get more for your money compared to an entry-level model.
SEAT Leon – Under £9K
Very similar to the Ford Focus, the SEAT Leon is another great example of a fab family car but with more of a stylish edge.
Try to find a model that has the Technology trim/Pack so you’ll get more bang for your buck.
Choosing to go with either a 2.0L diesel or 1.4l petrol turbocharged engine offer good performance with equally good economy.
Ford Focus – Under £9K
The third bestselling brand car in the UK is the Ford Focus, but it suffers from a heavy depreciation, so buying second hand is a great way to score yourself a winner without taking a financial hit.
This car is as good for nipping around town as it is for travelling on the motorway, with the overall driving experience an enjoyable one regardless of duration.
However, for those who require a lot of storage, this may not be the car for you as it does have a smaller boot and less cabin space than many others. But with this being the only drawback – it’s a definite contender on the used car market.
Vauxhall Astra – Under £10K
This car is a perfect example of a strong family car.
The Astra has an attractive interior and high standard of tech, such as air-conditioning, cruise control, DAB radio, Bluetooth phone connectivity and Sat Nav (in the tech line model).
The choice of engine size ranges from 1.0L 64.2mpg, great for those short urban journeys, to 85mpg for fuel efficiency on the longer hauls.
The 2016 model was given a more modern look, meaning previous models are now great value, so you should have no problems finding a well-equipped 3-year-old model with low mileage for under £10K.
Important car checks before buying
So you’ve found the car you like and are now stood next to the car with no idea what to do next.
Walking around the vehicle kicking the tyres isn’t going to get you very far if you don’t know what you’re looking for.
Our essential checklist is a great starting point and will give you a must needed overview of what to look out for.
Forget kicking the tyres but spend some time looking at each one. Make sure that there are no cuts or bulges. Make sure you check the tread depth as well. The legal tread minimum is 1.6mm. If it is below 3mm then you may have to replace the tyres quite soon so it is worth factoring this into your negotiation.
Try EVERYTHING – put the windows up and down a few times, turn the radio on and off, test the aircon; basically, press every button and feature to ensure they are in good working condition. The last thing you want is to get into your new car the next morning to find out the headlights won’t turn on.
It’s best try and check bodywork on a good clear day as dim lighting or bad weather can make spotting issues harder. Small chips and dents are to be expected on a used car but if there are visible gaps between panels or the colour doesn’t quite match then this could indicate a poor repair job. Alternatively if the body work looks near perfect with no visible signs of wear and tear for its age then it may have been repaired after a crash.
Check for any signs of cracks or chips. This could be an added expense as it will need replacing and this is also an MOT fail. While you’re at it, check all lights for cracks, fogging or internal moisture.
Stains and tears in the upholstery can be off-putting as well as any bad smells such as cigarette smoke. It may be costly and hard to remedy later on and could affect your own resale value further down the line.
6. Under the bonnet
Don’t be afraid to pop the hood and check all the fluid levels. If they are low, this could indicate poor upkeep. Check the oil cap for a white creamy substance – this is a sign of coolant mixing with the oil and a sign of head gasket failure. Also, it’s worth looking for any oil leaks by checking where the car has been parked.
Have the wheels been kerbed? If so, they will have tell take scratches to the alloys. Check if the car comes with a spare tyre as well as lifting jack and adapter for locking wheel nuts.
8. Wear and tear
Ensure that the signs of use match the age of the car. Low mileage yet heavy wear on the steering wheel, pedals or seats could indicate that something isn’t quite right.
Click to print out your checklist here
Questions to ask before you buy
1. Is this car free of finance?
If you buy a car with outstanding finance then, unfortunately, it will still belong to the finance company - even if you paid the seller outright for it. It’s always worth doing a quick check on GOV.UK for peace of mind.
2. Do you have all the legal documents?
For a car to be sold, all legal documents must be up to date and available such as the logbook, MOT certificate, and service history. If the seller cannot show you these then there’s a possibility that’s it’s not theirs to sell, so it would be best to not peruse the sale further.
3. Has the car been stolen or written off?
In these cases, you may not know what damage has been caused to the car and not all incidents are recorded. It’s best to ensure it has a full history to put your mind at ease.
4. How many previous owners has this car had?
A car has swapped hands more than a handful of times in a short space of time then it could be suspicious. There’s a possibility that something is wrong with it that you’re not aware of.
5. Will I be able to drive this car home?
If you’re told yes then this implies that everything is in order from the car working to the paperwork being correct. If it turns out that this isn’t correct then the seller is in breach of contract.
6. Has this car had any bodywork repair?
If the answer is yes, enquire what has been repaired and ask for evidence to back this up. If you have been told no but there are inconsistencies with body panels being different shades or large gaps, this indicates that car has been badly repaired after an incident so it’s best to be aware in these circumstances.
7. Does the car have a warranty?
If the car you are buying is less than a few years old then in may still be under the manufacturer’s warranty. If not, for an added fee, you may be able to purchase additional warranty if buying through a dealership. If you opt for this, be sure to read the small print and fully understand what is covered.
8. Does this car have all the right keys?
If the car doesn’t come with the original keys (check the paperwork to see if they match), then you may be able to haggle on the price.
9. Can I test drive the car?
Nearly all sellers will allow you to test drive before purchase. Try to go for a longer drive on dual carriageways or country roads rather than just around the block. You’re more likely to see if there is anything wrong this way. If they say no – walk away.
10. What mileage is on the clock?
The lower the better but beware if the seller tells you that the car was only used one a week by an elderly lady to go to the shops yet there’s 100K on the clock – something’s not right. Alternatively, if the mileage is suspiciously low for the age of the car, this may indicate that it has been tampered with.
Remember, there are plenty of used cars out there, so if something doesn’t feel right, walk away.
If you’ve found your next car and need a hand, Hitachi Personal Finance offers low-cost car loans starting from just 3.3% APR Representative between £7,500 and £25,000.
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