5 ways to keep costs down when buying a used car

Buying a used car is a great option for many reasons, the main one being the amount you’ll save compared to a new model. But whether you’re after a cheap runaround or splashing out on a convertible, it can be hard to separate fact from myth when you’re trying to find a bargain. Follow our tips to make you get the best deal. 

1.Find the best times to buy

Most dealerships have an influx of used stock when the new licence plates come out in March and September. That’s why February and August can be a good time to buy as they may offer discounts to move certain vehicles. Many dealers work to quarterly targets, so buying at the end of March, June, September and December can also prove timely as they need to shift models to hit those targets.

Generally, older cars will be much cheaper but are more likely to need repairs and might not last as long, depending on their mileage and service history. If you’ve got the budget, used cars between one and three years old are ideal as they’ll have depreciated in values enough to be worth a big chunk less than new. And, of course, the better a car’s condition, the more reliable it’ll be and the less you’ll have to pay out in repairs. You can check how much a car is worth using the AA Valuation Tool.

2.Check you’re not being ripped off

Make sure you follow a used car checklist and be vigilant when looking at second hand cars to buy:

  • Get an HPI check as this will quickly tell you about any issues, such as if the used car has previously been an insurance write off, has any outstanding finance, the number of previous owners, and number plate changes.
  • Compare the listed price against other used cars on the market. These can act as a guide and show if its sale price is too high.
  • Check dealer reviews when buying from a dealership, to make sure they’re a reliable seller.
  • Look at the condition, checking for any problems and compare this against its mileage. For example, if the car is a few years old or looks well used but the mileage is low, it may have been tampered with.

3.Consider the other car running costs

Aside from buying the car, don’t forget to budget for fuel and insurance. These will vary with the specific model you choose. Generally those with smaller engines are cheaper to buy and run, while hybrid and electric cars usually have lower running costs but a higher upfront price. Work out if it’s more cost-effective for you to spend more outright and recoup through ownership costs or not. Our used car reviews let you easily compare range information for each model, as well as price in our used car listings. 

4.Sort your finance

If you don’t have the cash to buy a second-hand car outright, there are other options available. With AA Cars Finance you can spread the cost over monthly payments. You’ll have access to 31 lenders, help with your final bill if you need it – as well as free AA membership and breakdown cover for a year. 

5.Compare dealerships

To make sure you’re getting the best deal, compare the used car you’re looking to buy at other dealerships. Visiting different dealerships is time consuming so let AA Cars do the leg work. We’ve partnered with hundreds of dealers, so you can easily compare the price for similar models for sale through different dealers online. This saves you time and effort to help you source a used car that will keep the costs down.

Image courtesy of iStock.

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