Driving A Hard Bargain: How To Get The Best Deal When Buying A Used Car
22 Jul 2019
Buying a car can be exciting. A car can be a significant purchase. For many people, it represents the freedom to be able to go where they want. Others may take enjoyment out of the act of driving. Quite often, cars are chosen because of their brand, style or technical abilities.
On average, a person will spend 293 hours behind the wheel of their car per year. That’s a lot of time. So getting the right car is very important.
Why Buy A Used Car?
There are many reasons to buy a used car. For many people, they offer an affordable solution to getting on the road. New vehicles can be costly, and often come with credit agreements that can take years to pay off. But new cars deplete in value very quickly, losing twenty per cent of their value within the first year. By the time a vehicle is a few years old, the depreciation begins to slow. For that reason, you’ll get more car for your money.
For many new drivers, it offers the easiest way to own their first car. Younger drivers will have limited funds and potentially less access to credit. A used car is often well within the means of a young drivers savings.
Some drivers look for the cheapest car possible for a cost-effective form of transport. While many people might call them ‘old bangers’, if you’re savvy, you can pick up a reliable car for next to nothing. The idea is that you run that car as long as possible, getting the most value out of it. If repairs are needed, you’d only get them done if they add value, or cost less than the value of the car. The moment a repair job costs near the amount you paid for it, you should sell it on for spares or repair.
Insurance costs can be inhibitive on new cars, but where the value of a used car is lower, your premium is more economical.
With Improvements in the design and build of cars, they generally last for much longer these days. And with many people looking to replace their vehicles every few years, it means there are a lot of perfectly good cars still out there. If you don’t mind not having the latest registration plate or all of the design features that this year’s model has, then a used car will go the job you need it to do perfectly well.
Having a used car is the most sustainable way of owning a vehicle, as you are keeping an older vehicle from being scrapped. If you are concerned with the environment, or over-production and excessive consumption in society, then buying second hand might be the best route to ownership for you.
Buying Your Used Car
There are two main routes you can follow, buying a used car from a dealer, or an individual. There are advantages to both, and there are tips for getting the best deal in both situations.
Buying From A Car Dealer
When you’re looking at car dealers, you should expect to find a high degree of professionalism. Cars will be serviced and cleaned before being placed on the lot, and they should have been tested to ensure they are safe and meet all of the legal requirements to be on the road.
Often, you will have several cars to choose from, and the dealer will no doubt be happy to show you all of them.
Car dealerships tend to get busiest at the weekend, and around the start and end of the month when most people generally get paid. Avoiding these times will mean that you’ll be able to shop easier, and have more time with a salesperson.
Getting The Deal You Want
Car dealers have targets to meet and work on quarterly commission. Often, as the tax year draws to an end, businesses will look to have as much money in the bank as possible, so will be trying to drive sales as best they can. This might mean that they will be more open to giving you a better deal to seal the deal. The same is often true when it comes to the dealer’s commission cycles. They want to be hitting their target to earn a bonus. Don’t leave it too close to the end of the quarter, or they’ll have already met their targets and will be less likely to push so hard.
Car dealerships show the asking price on the car window, but you need to understand that it isn’t necessarily the price you should be paying. Don’t be afraid to haggle to get the price lowered. Car dealers expect this and are often experts in negotiating deals.
Go online before you head out to the showroom, and get a good idea of how much you should be paying for the car you want. If you have a fair budget in mind and are educated in the value of vehicles, you’ll come away with the car you want, at the right price. Try to get freebies thrown in. Look for flaws in the car to use as a haggling point. If the salesperson becomes quiet during the negotiations, this is often a ploy to create an awkward silence so that you’ll accept the offer. Fill the silence with a proposal that works better for you. If you don’t get the deal you want, walk away. They may get back in touch with a better offer.
When it comes to paying, pay for at least part of it using a credit card. You’ll get a much better level of protection should anything go wrong with the sale, or the vehicle.
Buying From A Private Seller
There are lots of places online to find second-hand cars listed. Facebook marketplace has become a prevalent tool for private sellers in recent years, and eBay has always been an excellent place to go too. There are also a vast amount of sites listing small ads, or geared explicitly towards selling cars.
Contact the seller first, and have some questions about the vehicle to ask. Find out about its service history, and if it is currently road legal. Ask about any damage to the car, or if there are any repairs that have been done recently.
Arrange to see the vehicle and take it for a test drive. Take a friend or family member with you for security. Check things like the breaks, make sure it doesn’t veer to one side. Listen for any knocking sounds from the engine. Drive on a variety of different roads, and check that the power seems right. Perform some manoeuvres that allow you to test the steering to extremes and listen for knocking sounds when turning. Check the suspension. Open and close all of the doors, the boot and bonnet. Get your head under the back and check the condition of the exhaust. Look at the bodywork for signs of rust, or any potential crash damage.
Again, as with a dealer, don’t be afraid to haggle. A private seller may not be as experienced with haggling though, so you might not always get the results you expect. Be polite, and make sure your offer isn’t insulting. While they may have overestimated the value of their vehicle, there can be a lot of emotion or sentiment attached to a car, so having some tact when dealing with them is helpful.
You can often get a much cheaper vehicle from a private seller. However, there is not the same legal protection as you may find with a dealer.
Remember, you will need insurance on the vehicle before you can drive it away. It also needs to be safe to drive and fully road legal.
A Few Other Points To Consider
Many factors can affect the value of a car and so many things to consider. But there are a few universal truths you can rely on.
Small Cars Are Cost-Efficient
Buying a small car, with an engine size of around one litre, makes the car very cheap to run. Fuel consumption is generally relatively low on these vehicles, and as such, it also makes them more environmentally friendly.
You may find that the amount that you need to pay in taxes is lower based on the engine size, as it is quite often relative to the co2 output. With many governments trying to cut emissions, offering tax breaks to more environmentally friendly cars is a common way of attempting to reduce the amount of bigger cars on the road.
Generally, the insurance on a smaller car is lower too.
Manual Cars Vs Automatics
You’ll generally find that manual Cars are cheaper than automatics when you’re buying second hand. So if you’re fine using a clutch, then it’s the best way to go.
Look At The Milage
Average mileage for a car is 10,000 miles per year (16,093 kms). If it’s way off this, ask questions. Too low might imply something is not quite right. Too high might mean that it’s had excessive use.
Craig is a husband, a father, team leader, senior youth group coordinator, designer, brander, community builder, volunteer, blogger, and social media manager. Craig likes to go camping, travel, go on road trips, watch movies, read with his girls, build stuff, operate the grill, and play bass guitar. In June 2017, PR firm Cision identified Craig as one of Canada’s top 10 most popular male bloggers in the parents and family space. Known as Big Daddy Kreativ, his blog specializes in travel, lifestyle, food, automotive, events, parenting, movies, tech, recipes, health, pets, reviews, and giveaways.