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Top 10: Tips for buying a used car

Buying a used car need not be a minefield if you know what the pitfalls are and how to avoid them. We think finding your next car should be an enjoyable and simple experience.

Of course, the downside is that you don’t have the same level of protection as you do with a new car and there’s no guarantee you won’t end up with a lemon. But follow our guide and you can bag a bargain that won’t let you down. 

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What do you want and what can you afford?

Work out what kind of car you need and set a budget. Consider what you will use the car for, the kind of mileage you plan to cover and whether your current car (assuming you have one) meets your needs – if not, why do you need to change it and what qualities do you want instead? If you’re stuck, our Car Chooser can help.

When you have a clear idea of the type of used car you want, set yourself a budget and search for cars within it. If you start off looking at things you can’t afford then you’ll only be disappointed...


denboy    on 2 July 2016

Your advice should be followed as it is very easy to get ripped off. You also get sellers telling you a load of lies.If you can take sombody who nose about cars with you.


J Butcher    on 16 February 2017

Is it currently sensible to buy any sort of diesel powered car? My friend has just ordered one and is seriously concerned about potential forthcoming changes in legislation. Mine is now 9 years old and I am wondering about scrappage schemes - worthwhile?

DLDLDL    on 15 April 2017

To get road tax on a car that you have just bought you presumably need
- MOT status OK - "certificate" should be available online or as paper
- Insurance status OK
-- this takes a few days to show online, so you can't quickly buy road tax online
-- for a cover note to come through the post takes a while, so you can't tax at GPO!
So how do you tax a car that you are buying - or does it have to stay on the forecourt for a few days whilst being sorted?

   on 28 June 2017

Looking for a Hyundai i10. Found a private sale bargain in Leicester via Gumtree.

Google'd the phone number and found many other cars for sale. Clearly a dealer.

Google street view told me the road is deep in 'council country'.

The DVLA site (free check) said the car was untaxed since May 17 so no test drive available. I might have believed a seller's word that its taxed.

'Let's be careful out there people.'
Hill Street Blues

Now waiting to see what Gumtree (owned by eBay since May 2005) do about it. Since its eBay, I am NOT holding my breath that an obvious crook will be taken out and shot.

Jan Babe    on 5 November 2017

I bought my last second hand car. Direct from a trust worthy owner. It lasted over 10 years without hardly any trouble.
So that has to be good advice. How much does a dealer know about a car that he’s acquired at auction ?

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