If money was no object, it’s likely that most of use would choose to buy brand new cars, straight off the forecourt of the local dealer. Sadly though, very few of us have discovered a money tree at the bottom of the garden, happened to stumble upon the winning lottery ticket, or have a job that pays enough to buy anything we could ever want.
As everyone reading this is likely to need to use at least a few budgeting skills every now and again, it’s good to know that there are ways to get your hands on a much nicer car that you would do if you went to that local dealer.
The obvious way is to buy second hand. That doesn’t need to mean a ten year old wreck – even three month old cars sell for significantly less that they would brand new. You just need to know what to look for in order to avoid a disaster after you’ve committed to your purchase.
First and foremost, buy with your head and not your heart. Wandering around a used car forecourt and deciding you simply have to have a specific vehicle is a recipe for failing to get the best deal.
What you need is a general idea of what you want to buy – for example a small car with a decent amount of boot space. Also make sure you know how much you have to spend – that doesn’t mean you have to spend it all, but have a set amount as a maximum and stick to it.
When negotiating, sales people will be very pushy in finding out how much you have to spend – that’s your business though, not theirs. If they know your maximum, that’s what they’ll aim to get out of you.
It may be they throw in a few extras like paint protection or service plans to make you feel like you’re getting a great deal, but it’s far more important you get the core details right – namely a vehicle that matches your needs.
Buying second hand can come with additional risk above and beyond those of buying new, so look for clues about how a car has been looked after – things like stains and damage to the interior are normal to a point, but if something appears to have been completely replaced, be on your guard.
Generally speaking, someone either looks after a car or they don’t. There’s very little in the middle.
If you can see evidence of damage, make sure you look very closely at the rest of the car too – it’s great that something’s been fixed, but it may not be the only problem to find. If you don’t know what to look for, take someone with you later to check over it who is more of an expert.
Naturally, even the most clued up buyer can miss things, but by being careful and not falling in love with a car that you’re yet to buy can help you to see a car for what it is, and not a vision that you want it to be that it may never live up to!