If you’re in the market for a used car, then buying from a dealer is generally the safest option. Your legal protection will be increased and any risks minimised. On the other hand buying from a private seller may be cheaper, but of course is more risky than from a dealer. You will have to be better equipped with the correct questions to ask and personally inspect the car. You can also make sure you are getting the best value for money by taking a look at our Top 5 Used Cars article.
If you want more information on what to expect from legitimate dealers and private sellers when it comes to handing over your money, take a look at our Paying For Your Car guide.
Buying over the Internet can be very risky. You have to read all the terms and conditions extremely carefully and be highly vigilant to fraudulent websites and sales. Finally buying from an auction leaves you with very little rights. If you find any defects after the purchase, you can only approach the auctioneer if they misled you before the sale.
Buying From a Used Car Dealer:
Under consumer law you are far better protected when buying a used car from a dealership. However, always do some prior research into the company, trying to use those that come recommended or have good reputations. Use the internet to your advantage, owners clubs and review sites are great tools for gathering honest advice and information. As a starting point try our trusted dealers list.
A used car will normally be sold with a comprehensive warranty for a limited time after the purchase. This gives you the peace of mind and of course a chance to ensure everything is above board with the car.
Be sure to research what ‘extras’ come with the vehicle. For example many dealers can offer competitive finance packages or warranty deals when they sell you a car. They often have exclusive deals that will ultimately save you money.
That said, double check that you cannot personally obtain a better quote online, many companies have various promotions that could lower the price. Once you have a personal quote take it back to the dealer and see if they can beat it.
Buying a Car Privately:
Never buy a car that’s for sale as ‘private’ if you suspect them to be dealers. The trouble with a private sale is that you have relatively few legal rights, which the dealer may be trying to exploit.
One trick to avoid this situation is to call the seller and ask ‘I’m enquiring about the car you have for sale’. If they respond with ‘which one?’ then they are probably a dealer.
Never allow the seller to bring the car to a mutual viewing point. Classic locations include petrol stations, lay bys or public car parks. Ensure you view it at their house and take a friend or family member with you (this is for both a second opinion and as a security measure).
Know the car you’re buying before you turn up. That means do your research, check what common faults may be and ask the seller as many questions as possible. If it’s their vehicle they will be very familiar with the car and all its functions. Try to be vigilant about a few subtle but important factors, for example ask where the profile pictures were taken, were they at the sellers house? Does the sellers address appear on the documents?
Finally it may sound obvious but always view the car in full daylight. You would be surprised at how many imperfections are missed due to poor visibility. Being vigilant when buying from a private seller becomes even more important in light of recent research from HPI. They found that a surprising amount of people lie when trying to sell their cars – you can find out more from our blog post “Would You Lie to Sell Your Car?”
Buying at Auction
This can always be a risky business, especially if you aren’t fully qualified to inspect the car and its engine. At an auction you have very few rights in a legal sense, with the majority of vehicles being ‘sold as seen’. This term basically means you have no legal grounds to return the vehicle if something goes wrong.
If you are adamant about purchasing at auction, visit one beforehand purely to get a feel of how they work.