Be streetwise on

used cars

Buying 13 plate car in showroom

WITH THE new car market down by an estimated 15.7 per cent the atmosphere in the used car arena is booming.

There are many reasons for buying a used car rather than a new one. Whether it's the lower cost or the ability to use it immediately rather than waiting months, sometimes a used car is just much more appealing.

But the used market has always carried its own list of pitfalls and it is definitely a case of let the buyer beware.

Otherwise, you could end up forking-out thousands for repairs in the long run.

So, can you find reliable used cars on a budget? The short answer is yes, but here are some tips which may steer the buyer away from making a big mistake.

First and foremost mug up on reliability surveys and reports.

At least one foremost survey has pointed to the fact that some of the most reliable marques are made by Asian and Japanese manufacturers.

Once you've decided on your car, you need to know how to get the best deal; and that means knowing when to buy.

Dealerships have targets to meet, usually on a quarterly sales basis. Therefore, the ends of March, June, September and December are a good time to buy. They're keen to meet their targets, so will be more willing to negotiate and offer more attractive packages. For example, you could get a few years' free servicing thrown into the price.

For a quiet time and the best chance to talk to a salesperson, try skipping weekends, or going in after payday. A dealership crammed with buyers isn't the best place to bargain. Likewise, avoid the very end of the quarter for sales, once targets have beenmet, the deals are off.

Obviously, this doesn't apply to private sellers but be wary of adverts that say they're offering it cheaper for any number of circumstances. Check out ads for similar models and their prices to make sure that youaren't being duped into buying.

There's a long list of things to look for when buying a used car that goes far beyond looks, bumps, and badge. The RAC has produced a handy checklist for you, but here are a few key points to look for.

Try to avoid ultra-high mileage cars and always test drive.

A vital point is also to carry out a data check with one of the well-known providers. This tells you if the car has been stolen, previously written off or comes with the hidden bombshell of outstanding credit. This especially applies when purchasing from private sellers.

A car may be shiny and attractive but look closely. Panels with different shades or iffy alignment are signs of repair after a shunt. Likewise, spray paint on handles, window seals and mouldings can show repair work. If the engine bay has been washed, it could mean the owner may be covering up oil leaks so check this after a test drive.

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