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Simple steps to buying a used car safely

One of the biggest purchases you’ll ever make, buying a car can be daunting and stressful, but it doesn’t have to be that way! Whether you’re planning on getting a used car on finance, or buying it with cash, keep a level head and remember these simple points to ensure you get a great car at a great price.

1. Research your car.

The driver’s seat in your new car could very well become somewhere you spend a lot of time, so it’s important that you know it’s going to be a comfortable place to sit. The internet is your friend here, with plenty of websites offering new and used car reviews, comparison videos and other information.

Wondering what the difference in fuel efficiency is between a BMW 1-series and a Ford Focus? Like to see what in-car entertainment features a Range Rover has? All of this information is easily accessible online.

It’s also a good plan to get an idea as to how much the cars cost to run. You can easily get quotes for car insurance online, and find out fuel economy figures.

2. Take it for a test drive.

Once you have a good idea of a shortlist of a few cars you like the look of, you can then go ahead and see if there are any in your local area. If you find the cars you’re looking for, it’s usually a good idea to take it for a test drive. If you don’t drive the car, you won’t be able to get a good feel for the steering, the driving position or the general quality of the vehicle.

The car might be perfect, or you might hate it. At least you’ve driven it and you know for sure! You will also get an idea of the condition of the car, and can see it up-close to check for rusting, dents and scratches.

Keep in mind that even if you go into a dealer for a test drive, you are under no obligation to buy the car! Dealers will push you to get the sale, but don’t proceed until you’re absolutely happy with the decision. If the dealer doesn’t seem legitimate in any way, just walk away. There are plenty of cars out there, and you deserve a great customer experience!

3. Check the car’s history.

So you’ve gone for a test drive, decided on the model you want and have had some good banter with the nice young man (or lady) in a suit behind the desk. What do you do now?

It is incredibly important to know the history of the car, and there are a few things you should really ask for to prove the dealer is trustworthy and that there’s nothing wrong with the vehicle.

The first is to ask if there’s a full service history with the car. If not, there could be repairs and other work on the car which hasn’t been disclosed, and could potentially be a problem down the line. Also, ask when the MOT is due. If it’s soon, it could be worth asking the dealer to get it done before you sign the dotted line. This will prove the vehicle’s roadworthiness.

The second is to ask for a car history check. You’ll want to know if there is any outstanding finance on the car, if it’s been stolen, if it’s been involved in an accident or even written off. It’s not expensive to check the history of a car, and if the dealer doesn’t offer to do it, there are services where you can check yourself.

4. Financing options.

If you’ve got the cash to buy the car up front, that’s great! If not, though, there are plenty of options to finance your car. There’s always the possibility of taking out a personal loan, but there are more specialized car loans which can be more useful depending on your situation.

The dealership might offer their own financing scheme, but there are also various companies who can find and compare the best deals to suit your credit circumstances.

Car finance can be an intimidating process, with credit checks, interest rates and loan agreement terms being thrown at you from all angles, but a broker will help you through the process and ensure you get the best possible option.

If you are careful, you will end up with the finance you need, the car you want and a smile on your face.

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