Going to buy a used car next week - what should I know?

(26 Posts)
SvetlanaKirilenko Sat 29-Jun-13 21:02:07

Budget is around £7K, going to some big dealerships to look at various cars next week - want something 2-3 years old with not too many miles on the clock that will be reliable for another 10 years.

Have never bought a car before (current car came from PIL) so don't know where to start! Would I get a better deal walking in with pockets full of cold hard cash? Or should I cough up for finance deals to get a better price?

And how much should I offer on a car with a price tag of, say, £8K?

Any tips on what to look for, what to avoid, how to go about it, would be gratefully appreciated, thank you!

(And if you can tell me what car you would recommend that fits my criteria I will love you for ever smile)

Ponders Tue 02-Jul-13 22:51:11

as well as the Hyundai, have a look at the equivalent Kia Rio - you get a 7-year/100,000 mile warranty with those

Technotropic Tue 02-Jul-13 22:43:23

Forgot to add.

I generally tend to do all of my research up front and then put together a short list of potential cars. Once I have 5+ that fit the criteria I ring round every dealer to express and interest and to ask politely if there is any movement on the price. If there isn't then I say thanks and put the phone down. Usually they're good for haggling so it depends on how much. You can ask for a ballpark figure, pending a test drive and viewing, on the basis that you will be paying cash on the day. From experience telling them you want to buy a car that day is important as salespeople don't like waiting days/weeks for a deal to close. During the conversation tell him/her that you have a few to look at but will be in some time that day.

I tend not to play dealers off each other as just knowing you have more than one option is enough for them to do a deal. You also run the risk of cheesing them off so is not a good tactic. What I normally look for is to get some rapport going so the purchase is slightly edgy but always polite and friendly.

I'm no expert on this but the above has consistently worked for me over the years. Others may have better approaches so just use one that suits you. One thing I would say though is to keep your nerve and don't buckle. If a salesperson goes off to 'talk with the manager' and comes back after a long wait asking for some middle ground then keep firm. If you can't then split the difference.

Again best of luck!

Technotropic Tue 02-Jul-13 22:25:17

From what you are saying I don't think you're going to get a much better or reliable car than a Honda Jazz. It won't set the world alight but if you want rock solid reliability, space, practicality and economy then you won't go far wrong. They are amazing little cars and whilst a fiesta will be more engaging to drive is not really a patch on the Jazz in all other respects.

You can pick up a 2010 for £8k and from experience Honda dealers will usually do a deal. I'm not sure if you can get £1k off but is worth a go.

Best of luck

WMittens Mon 01-Jul-13 20:42:46

Will do, got any links?

The info I read wasn't so much about running in (so my comment above was erroneous) but suggested the conrods stretch (minutely) due to the momentum of the pistons when they change direction.

AKAK81 Mon 01-Jul-13 20:20:10

Mittens - you need to check up on the bore wear/lip info. The problem with not running in properly means that the piston rings don't bed in properly and this can let oil past causing high oil consumption. Whoever told you about the lip is talking rubbish. A heavily worn bore can have a lip at the top of the stroke but reving it harder will have no impact.

WMittens Mon 01-Jul-13 19:45:19

Mittens, I said one careful lady owner!

So why not say "careful owner" instead of "careful lady owner"? Gender doesn't say anything about how careful a previous owner was - I would say it's marginally more likely that a male owner would be interested in cars, so may have kept it in better condition.

Asking who the previous owners were, checking the service history etc is a good idea anyway

The dealers probably aren't going to know - the salesperson you speak to may well not be the person who took that car in, if it was part ex; they may have part ex'd a car that isn't part of their target market just to make a sale, so they would just pass it on through the trade - the car you're looking at may have arrived at the dealer from another trader or from auction. Also, salespeople are often going to tell you what you want to hear to make a sale.

Service history, of course, but dealers don't care if you're going to buy based on service history or colour - they just want you to buy. They don't really care if you buy it based on its colour, it's shape or whether you've had a test drive or not, they just want your money.

Parkers do (for a small fee) a guide to every make and model of car, telling you what the common faults are and what to look for when buying second hand which is really useful if you don't have a clue.

Honest John has the info for free wink

noblegiraffe Mon 01-Jul-13 15:05:31

Mittens, I said one careful lady owner! Not the sort of owner who would leave a warning light unchecked or not have the car serviced to schedule.

Asking who the previous owners were, checking the service history etc is a good idea anyway, to show the dealers that you're not simply going to buy a car based on its colour.

Parkers do (for a small fee) a guide to every make and model of car, telling you what the common faults are and what to look for when buying second hand which is really useful if you don't have a clue.

SvetlanaKirilenko Mon 01-Jul-13 14:30:13

OK we have now narrowed search, after further research, to Ford Fiesta, Nissan Note, or Hyundai i20.

Thanks for all your input, it is really helpful.

Most women I know drive faster than their men.

I agree with WMittens about the price you'll find loads for that.

Good luck.

SvetlanaKirilenko Sun 30-Jun-13 11:40:57

Thanks everyone, this is really helpful. By saying Ford Escort I have shown my age blush, I mean Ford Fiesta! And we are in 2013 now so I of course meant 3-4 years old (I am very tired)...

Thanks so much, I am going to write a list to take round to showrooms with me!

WMittens Sun 30-Jun-13 11:38:34

I think you're not likely to get something 2-3 years old for 7k unless the mileage is bad, so consider buying older but with lower mileage, aim for 10,000 miles per year or under.

Autotrader has just under 10,000 cars listed that are less than 3 years old, between £5K and £7K and under 20,000 miles.

You can get a brand new Dacia Sandero for £5995.

WMittens Sun 30-Jun-13 11:34:07

Ask who the previous owners were. Go for one careful lady owner, avoid anything that suggests fleet car.

Not really useful.

'One lady owner' could mean:
- never driven with mechanical sympathy
- accelerator used like an on/off switch
- never serviced
- engine and other fluids not checked (and rectified) on a regular basis
- brakes never checked*
- engine never been over 3000rpm and so not run properly (piston rings wear into the cylinder bores, and if it's not driven hard it can create a lip in the bore; if it is then taken higher, e.g. accelerating to join a motorway, the ring meets the lip and breaks, the engine loses compression, stops running properly and you have a £3K bill to rebuild the engine)
- faults not rectified ("oh that light's been on on the dash for ages")

*There was an amusing (and more than slightly worrying) anecdote of a woman who took her car to a garage complaining the brakes were crap:
the brake disc on the right is excessively worn; the one on the left is off this woman's car i23.photobucket.com/albums/b373/jimbo545/IMAG0291.jpg

I'm not saying this is exclusively women, but while we were using stereotypes...

'Fleet car' - I'm inclined to agree, however it will have been maintained to the manufacturer's schedule and regardless of cost using manufacturer service centres and OEM parts (included in lease, required as employer has duty of care to employees). And it isn't much different to a personal lease if the driver knows they're giving it back after 2 or 3 years.

ragged Sun 30-Jun-13 10:47:36

After you buy, within first 6 months, If you have ANY problems then get straight intouch with Trading Standards about your legal rights. We totally blew it and lost £2k not knowing our rights. sad

noblegiraffe Sun 30-Jun-13 10:02:37

Ford Focus?

Ask who the previous owners were. Go for one careful lady owner, avoid anything that suggests fleet car. I think you're not likely to get something 2-3 years old for 7k unless the mileage is bad, so consider buying older but with lower mileage, aim for 10,000 miles per year or under.

If you know what car you want, look online before you go for that car in your area, comparing mileage, prices etc can save you a fair bit of leg work before you leave the house. When I was looking for a car, I found it very useful to have another similar one at a different dealer that I needed to go to have a look at after this one. Then I phoned back the first and said I liked both, it came down to price and what could they offer - if not a discount then extended warranty, new tires etc. I absolutely did not tell them that the other one was a lemon that I definitely wasn't going to buy!

Oh and our auto electric people say stay away from the French. Think it's to do with replacing parts?

I just got a Corsa but mine is 51 plate so only £900. It's mint condition though. Has over 100,000 miles on the clock too. Great little runner and so nippy.

Make sure you look under the carpets as they hide a multitude of sins.

Skodas have fantastic reviews. This is helpful and lots of car reviews on Mumsnet too.

WMittens Sun 30-Jun-13 09:53:53

Ask how much the tyres cost to replace. Had a sharp pain in the wallet when we found out our car had run flats and were £200 each!

Difficult to say, because there are so many different brands at different price points - the same car could be fitted with £40 or £300 per corner.

You can usually replace run flat tyres with non-run flats; it makes the ride quality better too.

WMittens Sun 30-Jun-13 09:50:15

So far front runners from online research are Ford Escort...

I think you'll have trouble finding an Escort under 3 years old, they haven't made them for over 10 years wink

Sam100 Sun 30-Jun-13 00:12:01

Ask how much the tyres cost to replace. Had a sharp pain in the wallet when we found out our car had run flats and were £200 each! Ask when tyres were last replaced and life left in them.

Also think about if car has a tow bar and if not if you might want/need one as they cost a fortune to retro fit!

SvetlanaKirilenko Sat 29-Jun-13 23:33:24

Thanks for the advice so far. I want the car for short local trips weekly, plus longer motorway journeys maybe 10 or so times a year. Three people and all the stuff that entails, so super mini size up really. Something super cheap to run, insure etc. So far front runners from online research are Ford Escort and Skoda Fabia. Planning to test drive anything that catches my eye in price range though!

Rubberstamp Sat 29-Jun-13 22:27:21

Sorry, went I said dealership I was meaning 'car dealer' generally - the one I had trouble with was an independent.

WMittens Sat 29-Jun-13 22:14:49

I wouldn't get finance unless you need it. Any upfront savings will be negated by interest.

Or, take the better deal, then phone up the finance company within 14 days and pay off the balance in full.

If you buy from a dealership you will have significant protection under the sales of goods act.

That applies to any trader, not just dealerships. Dealerships are more 'visible' than independent traders though, so probably easier to pursue in that respect.

Rubberstamp Sat 29-Jun-13 21:43:48

If you buy from a dealership you will have significant protection under the sales of goods act. Any fault that materialises within six months of the date of sale is deemed to have been present at the point of sale unless the dealer can prove otherwise. Also, the car has to be of a quality that a reasonable person would expect for a car of that make / age / mileage. So for instance, if the gearbox falls out of a 2 year old car with 20k on the clock, even months afterwards, the dealer is bound to fix this. Dealers often go on about warranties etc but actually they are legally bound to give you far more than that for free. Having recently had a bad experience with a second hand car purchase and having to read up on the whole thing, I'd never enter the second hand car game, consumer protection is far to onerous. However, it did mean I got all my money back after being sold a lemon although did have to do a lot of research and threaten court action.

VivaLeBeaver Sat 29-Jun-13 21:35:23

Recently I've found garages not budging on their prices. I've bought two cars in the last 4 years and both times none of the garages would come down on price. All trotting out the line of been very keenly priced already, etc.

I was surprised as in years gone by I've always haggled a deal no problem.

I wouldn't get finance unless you need it. Any upfront savings will be negated by interest.

WMittens Sat 29-Jun-13 21:32:17

What to look for depends a lot on the model in question, they may have known problems with engine/gearbox/brakes and symptoms to check for on a test drive, for example. Get an idea of the car you want and research it; honestjohn.co.uk has in depth reviews detailing problems, recalls, etc.

There's no real guarantee of reliability, especially not over the next 10 years; regular servicing and proper maintenance will help, and it's something to check for having been carried out in the first few years of its life. Get an third party or extended warranty if you want some piece of mind.

Looking at the tyres could be an indicator of care (although not a perfect one) - some people would say that a good brand (Pirelli, Bridgestone etc.) shows the previous owner was willing to spend money on the car, rather than a cheap brand because they didn't give a stuff and just ran it as cheaply as possible; however, it may have been in need of tyres when they wanted to get rid, and they just threw the cheapest tyres they could find on to part ex (this is why it's not a reliable indicator).

In terms of a car that meets your criteria, what are your criteria? "£7K and 2-3 years old, low mileage" says nothing about what you want the car for. Annual mileage, short journeys, long journeys, motorways, B roads, you plus one child or family of five, economy important or load-lugging ability, preference of hatchback, saloon, estate, 4x4, supermini, citycar.

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