Welcome to a new feature which shall, herein, be joining the ranks of 0to60reviews alongside the news and reviews currently offered on the website. 0to60advice is fairly self-explanatory: we’re going to be offering up our automotive knowledge on a range of topics to ensure that you are better informed and can get more out of motoring!
In our first proper post of 2012, and the 51st article since 0to60’s creation, I’m talking about used cars, including some of the amazing deals to be had and where to begin when looking at purchasing a used car.
If you’ve never even thought about buying a used car, then you’re a complete lunatic. There’s such a vast range of opportunities to be had, whether you want a virtually new car with a few thousand pounds knocked off the ticket price, a slightly older model which costs less than half the original price, or even a clapped out old car that you want to tidy up and sell on for a profit.
Most of you will be after a car in one of those first two categories, so I’ll introduce you to some of the amazing offers to be seen in this market:
This leviathan amongst saloons, with around 50,000 miles on the clock could be yours… for less than £10,000! You can even have a 300c with a colossal V8, which you could fuel with all the money you’ve saved. With the new 300c that’s coming out this year, the prices of these cars should fall even lower and, seeing as they’ve already done most of their depreciating, that’s less of a concern than when buying new.
Similarly priced new car alternatives for less than £10,000 include the Chevrolet Spark, or Renault Twingo. It’s not a hard choice.
Don’t buy a 5-series new. Wait for as little as 6 months, and get a well specced car for less than the base price of a new one. With German build quality and a car with less than 25,000 miles, I can’t see how you could go wrong. If, like me, you prefer the more elegant shape of the older 5-series you could get a good one of those for about £12,500.
Mercedes-Benz GL Class
Fancy a car with Range-Rover levels of space, luxury and off-road capability, but without the associated price? Why not try the Mercedes GL Class? It’s less conspicuous, less common and, arguably, more stylish and yours for just £22,500.
The good thing about the Mercedes is that the newer model looks virtually identical to the older GL. And so, to everybody except a Mercedes expert, you could be driving a new car (but with a lot more cash in your pocket).
When you can afford a 300c for the price of some of these small cars, I don’t see why most people should buy little cars at all. If, however, running costs mean more than anything to you, or you’re a first time driver, it would be best to buy these cars used too. They tend to do their depreciating quickly, so buying a slightly older one will mean there’s another expense you don’t have to worry about. I’m not giving a specific price here, because there are many different small cars with many different small prices.
Finally, if you are a first time driver, or are buying for someone who is, definitely don’t buy a new car. It just makes it even more upsetting when it eventually is damaged.
To the average eye, these cars haven’t changed since about the year 2000. Of course, cars from the year 2000 can have lost up to £50,000 or £60,000 from their original price. Besides, if you purchased one of these, nobody would care about how old it is, only about the badge on the front – so, from £10,000, it’s a much cheaper way to have a midlife crisis.
How to buy
Obviously, when you buy a used car, you don’t have control over its history. Something can go wrong on the car, and it could be expensive to fix if the car is no longer under warranty.
Most of the time though, if you know what you’re doing, and what to look out for, there should be no problem at all. There are a few steps you can take to make sure that you buy a car which is as good now as when it came out of the factory:
- Always view the car. Always. No matter who you’re buying the car from, or what the description and photos tell you, you must never, ever buy a car without going for a look at it and, ideally, test driving it. If the seller won’t let you view the car, or you live too far away to go and see it, do not buy it.
- If it looks too good to be true, it is. There is no such thing as a brand new Audi for £5,000. No matter what excuse you get from the seller, if the vehicle is suspiciously cheap, leave it alone. Normally, a seller would tell you that they’re moving abroad, and want to sell the car quick. Rubbish.
- If you’re buying the car from a website like eBay or Autotrader, and the seller wants you to communicate with them outside of what’s allowed on that website (like emailing on Autotrader), stay away. These websites provide everything buyers and sellers need to trade cars, so you shouldn’t need to have exchanges outside of that website unless they’re a car dealership.
- HPI check a car before you go to look at it. If the documents aren’t in order, or you find out that it’s been stolen, you’ll have wasted the trip for the sake of a £5 internet check. If you buy a stolen car, the police can seize it from you, and the money you paid for it with will be lost.
- Full service history (ideally from the manufacturer). Make sure the vehicle has it. It will outline everything which has ever gone with the car and the action taken to fix it. It will also show the location of any blemishes on the vehicle that you may have missed when viewing the car.
The best way you can protect yourself is by buying an approved used car from the manufacturer. It will be more expensive, but you can be sure everything about the car is correct, and they’ll provide you with some sort of warranty to give you piece of mind. The next best thing is to buy from a reputable used car dealership, you aren’t quite as well covered should something go wrong, but it won’t cost as much. That’s not to say you can’t buy a car privately. As long as you do your homework, you should be okay, and an individual might just be offering the perfect car for you at the right price.