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Three Tips For Buying A Used Car

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Three Tips For Buying A Used Car

Kirsten Hendrich
November 9, 2010

Kirsten Hendrich

Buying a used car can often scare the hell out of people. If you're not experienced in the area, or not mechanically minded then you can quite quickly find yourself completely overwhelmed with not knowing what to buy or what not to buy. Thankfully, with just a small amount of research and some very easy to use systems, you can make sure that your next used car purchase goes nice and smoothly. This article gives you three simple tips that can help you through the process and arm you with the best possible knowledge enabling you to make some much better decisions. After all, no one wants to be the person who buys the banger!


This can't be emphasised enough; research, research and then do some more research! The homework you do, the more you'll know about the market and you'll be in a much better position to either negotiate on price, or know when you should be walking away. Looking through used car listings on the internet is a great way to find out how much cars are selling for, and also to help you spot potential issues with certain vehicles. It could also be worth searching for forums that discuss the model of car you want to buy. Here you'll be able to read conversations of people highlighting certain potential faults and when they might occur, and more importantly how much they are to fix.


When you first start viewing cars, it's advisable to go out without wanting to buy. Just simply go out on a few fact finding missions. Try to use these first viewing trips to build up a greater picture in your mind as to how much you should be paying for your new vehicle. If you go and see enough cars, you'll probably end up seeing quite a variety in the asking price vs the quality of the car on sale. Just by seeing this you'll start to become better at spotting genuinely good purchases against the not so good buys. If you're lucky enough to know someone who is mechanically minded, it's well worth bringing them along with you as their input will be invaluable, bribe them if you have too! If you don't know someone who can do this, do your own research and make sure you know what to check when looking at used cars.

HPI Checks

Having a good idea about the history of the vehicle you are looking into buying is a really important part of the buying process. Make sure that you can see the service history, log book and MOT certificate and ensure that it all matches up. If the car is being sold with a genuine full service history, then you can be confident that the car has been well looked after and that you are less likely to receive hefty and unexpected garage bills. However, these documents don't tell you the full story so it's well worth doing an HPI check. It'll cost you around £20, but it's money well spent as it will highlight any issues such as if the car has ever been written off/stolen or if there is any outstanding finance. The report is very detailed and for the sake of £20 you'll be a lot more informed in the decision you choose to make.

For more advice on buying used cars, please visit http://www.ianallanford.co.uk

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