Renault ClioBuying a used car seems like a straightforward process. You want to buy a car, someone wants to sell theirs, and that's it – a match made in Heaven. However, that's just not true. Buying a used car isn't as straightforward as most used car salesmen would like us to believe.

There are tricky pitfalls and hidden costs you should be aware of. Things like reliability, engine health, mileage and fuel economy, denting work, body repairs, fuel injection and brake line repairs, are a few things you should consider before purchasing a used car.

You should also pay close attention to the year, make, and model of the car, and any financial outstanding remaining on the vehicle. Most people look to sell their car to refinance a new one, or to pay off a debt. Since each car is unique, you should do as much due diligence as possible before finalizing the payment and processing transfer of ownership.

We're here to help you with tips for buying a used car and avoiding issues and problems at a later date.


One of the most important reasons people prefer purchasing a pre-owned car is the exorbitant pricing of a brand new one. Before you start looking at car options, set a comfortable budget, keeping at least a 20% margin for any additional repair jobs, car insurance, and registration.

Some car owners also prefer opting for a car loan instead of financing the entire cost of the car in a one-off payment. It becomes easier to manage costs in the long term, and will also allow you to opt for a more expensive car model. Most car loans in the UK need a 10% down payment to secure the car loan. You can also opt for three or five years' repayment plans depending on the monthly instalment interest rates and schemes available.

Choose the Car:

Once you have an approximate budget set, you should start looking at various cars that fit firmly within your preferred spending limit. It is easy to get lost in seeing too many models and variants above and below your budget. Compare cars of the same engine capacity, years purchased, kilometres run, and so on, before you start making a choice.

Comparing different brands of cars with each other and their performance over the years is an excellent way to get the best car in your budget. Select the best three cars from the list, and narrow your individual preferences down accordingly.


Knowing the history of the vehicle you are purchasing is vital in the long term. You should not buy a car without first checking its ownership history, registration, outstanding debts or loans, and body and engine work is done. You should also ensure the vehicle is not stolen, and cross-check it with FreeCarCheck before making an offer.

If you are approaching a seller directly or online, you should ask for the VIN. If this information is being withheld and not shared with you, it would be advisable to look for another car. Pre-owned cars may give problems later, and should always be thoroughly checked before purchasing to avoid accidents or mishaps at a later date.

Hidden Finance:

Before buying a used car, you should always ensure there are no hidden finances or costs associated with the vehicle. A good pre-owned car company will offer guaranteed protection against cars with hidden finances, and will usually conduct a thorough background check into the VIN number and mileage. Before making an offer, you should also check for any outstanding insurance claims on the car.

Buying a car also involves additional costs on the immediate wear and tear, new insurance, and warranty on spare parts. You should always pay by card or cheque when purchasing a car and should avoid cash since it can become untraceable in case of fraud or embezzlement on behalf of the seller.

Test Drive:

Never purchase a car (new or pre-owned) without test driving it first. Test driving the car is the best way to understand if the car suits you and your driving style. Some car owners only make an offer after the test drive to ensure that the vehicle is perfect for their driving needs. The legroom, distance to the steering wheel, driving seat adjustments, headroom, and hip room are some things to watch out for.

If you have a family with children or elderly citizens, you should also pay attention to the safety requirements and the comfort of the passengers in the back seat before making an offer.

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