Choosing my next car
The last thing you want is to get your shiny new car home, only to find that it doesn't really meet your needs or costs more to run than you thought. Follow our advice to help you pick the right car.
It may seem obvious but think about the style of car that you need. That gorgeous coupe might look great in the showroom but will it really have the room you need?
At the same time, a popular trend at the moment is ‘down-sizing’ with people buying smaller, more economical cars. The quality and ability of small cars now is far greater than you might think – maybe a smaller car is right for you?
If you intend to use your car for towing a trailer or caravan, then you might want to consider an estate car or SUV (Sport Utility Vehicle). Manufacturer websites and literature will usually provide information on the towing weight limits for specific vehicles, so make sure the car you are buying will be suitable.
Petrol or diesel? Opinions are divided on which is best but this will normally come down to individual preference. A diesel can certainly offer savings on fuel costs but only if you cover a fairly high annual mileage. Diesel cars tend to be slightly more expensive than their petrol equivalents so you need to consider whether the savings you make will offset this. Alternatively, there are a variety of ‘hybrid’ vehicles (that use a battery and electric motor as well as an engine) so you might want to think about whether one of these will meet your needs.
So you’ve decided on the type of car you want to buy but where should you buy from? Here are some options:
From a private seller – often a cheaper way of securing a used car and using a website - like UsedCar.co.uk - will give you access to hundreds of cars for sale. Unless the balance of a manufacturer’s warranty remains, there will be no guarantees so careful checking is advisable. Our guide will tell you all you need to know! For peace of mind, there is always the option of an aftermarket warranty which can be purchased at a reasonable cost.
From a franchised dealer – this is often viewed as the safest and most reliable way of buying a used car. Franchised dealers will usually stock lower mileage vehicles that are in very good condition, and which normally benefit from reliable warranties and guaranteed histories. Buyers also have a greater degree of ‘come back’ should their car prove to be faulty. However, it is worth noting that franchised dealer stock will normally be more expensive than other sellers so this is something to consider in your purchasing decision. Remember though that there is always room to negotiate!
From an independent dealer or car supermarket – there are a huge number of these around and they can vary greatly in quality. Some sell a variety of models while others specialise in particular marques - the latter often proving to be an invaluable source of help and advice. Find a dealer through the recommendation of friends or family if possible. If you are looking for a specific make or model, the motoring press or owners clubs can also be a useful source of advice on the best dealers. Prices will typically be lower than the franchised dealers, though the level of things like warranty back-up may not be as comprehensive. Cars sold through car supermarkets may not originally have been to UK specifications (they are often sourced from other EU countries) so make sure you are happy with this. It is also worth considering whether they are in reasonable travelling distance, just in case any problems develop or the car needs repairs under warranty (this is less of an issue with franchised dealers, where work can usually be undertaken at other manufacturer-appointed agents).
From an auction – as with selling your car, this is often ignored by private buyers as being too risky, and perhaps a little bit intimidating. Car auctions have changed a lot though in recent years and the auction companies themselves provide advice on how to negotiate the process, and many hold sales that are just for private motorists so you don’t have to worry about battling against trade buyers.