Buying a second-hand car?

The prices for the same model of car can vary considerably. In fact, in some cases as much as 25%. The question is why? Why does an identical car with identical mileage in identical condition differ in price?

Buying a second hand carBuying a second hand car
You get what you pay for

If you buy from a main dealer, you’ll be paying for the privilege of the dealer accepting a degree of risk if the car goes bang right after you’ve bought it. You may have a warranty with the car that the dealer must uphold. On the other hand, if you buy privately, you may well pay a lower purchase price, but if the car dies the minute you drive down the road, it’s your problem. There are stages in between the highest and lowest price of course, but they are simply a reflection of how much protection you have under our consumer legislation – the more the seller has to be responsible for, the higher the price you’ll have to pay them.

Let’s take a look at how much you can protect yourself if you’re in the market for a second hand car. Naturally, if you don’t enjoy the thought of risking your hard-earned savings on what could potentially turn out to be a banger, then go directly to a main dealer. You’ll have the law on your side and the dealer will have their reputation to protect. The last thing they want is the car coming back with barrow-load of faults because they’ll be obliged and under pressure to fix them.

On the whole cars being sold by a main dealer will be good, clean and honest so for most people paying the extra money is worth the peace of mind. But what happens to the slightly more tatty cars that the dealers take as part exchange? Well, they’re passed on to the next individual in the food chain – the independent second hand car dealer or the car supermarket. At this point the balance of risk starts to change. You’ve still got the law on your side but no big car manufacturer to moan at any more. If things do go wrong, you may well find yourself having to supply proof. Now most independent dealers are absolutely fine and trustworthy, actually pointing out the odd fault with a car. But it’s sold as seen. The price you pay reflects that. You are still covered by Trading Standards if things go horribly wrong – you can bring in one of their officers to work on your behalf.

However at the bottom end of the market, you’ve no comeback at all. Car auctions, private sales and of course, eBay are the haunt of the motor trade’s less honest characters. There are bargains to be had and lots of them but you need to know your way around this underground world. If you don’t know the difference between a bargain and a banger, expect to lose your money.

And now to the private sale. This falls into exactly the same category as the auction. And here you can often find Traders posing as private sellers. So it pays to make sure that you don’t view the car in the services at Clackett Lane and that the car is registered at the address you’re viewing at. If things don’t seem quite right, walk away.

eBay falls into exactly the same categories as other sales – traders are bound by the consumer laws, private sellers have few legal obligations. Bargains galore – but make sure the car actually exists, only pay a minimum deposit and meet the seller at his business premises or the home address on the log book. Take a copy of the advert with you and check the car carefully against it, and don’t be hurried – if there is a problem, it’s going to be yours unless you spot it before you hand the cash over.

So there you have it. You hand over your cash and you take your risk. Just make sure of one other thing – you still have enough money to pay your car insurance company. At least there’s no risk there.

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