Where to buy used cars

July 28, 2022 by

If you’re looking to buy a car there are plenty of ways to go about it these days. This guide will explain the pros and cons of each.

There used to be a time when buying a car meant popping down to the local independent or franchised dealership to chat to a salesperson and peruse their stock.

However, there are now quite a few options to pick from, each with its own pros and cons. This guide will help you understand the ways you can buy a used car, and which one is best for you.

Buying from a franchised dealership

Buying from a franchised dealer is likely the first thing you’ll think of when buying a used car. Each dealer tends to be limited to one or two manufacturers, though their staff are likely very knowledgeable about the specific models on sale, which may not always be the case with other options.

That face-to-face conversation is one of the key benefits of a franchised dealer, as well as the fact it will likely be easier to include everything you need in one place, such as a warranty or service plan.

However, you may be among the many buyers that find these environments intimidating, particularly when it comes to haggling the price.


Interacting with salespeople in person
Easier to include extras
Officially approved used cars offer peace of mind
Potential to source a car closer to your desired specification


Haggling for a good price can be intimidating
Limited choice of car manufacturer
Low prices on part exchange
Dealers might push you to pay more than you want to

Buying from a car supermarket

Car supermarkets have seen a big increase in popularity in recent years, boasting a number of benefits over a traditional dealership.

The big advantage is that they have a massive stock of cars from a wide range of manufacturers at almost every price point, so there are plenty of vehicles to choose from if you’re undecided.

On the other hand, cars might not have such a solid service history, while you’re also limited by what’s available on the day.


Prices tend to be considerably lower than main dealers
Huge variety of vehicles on offer
Test drives can help narrow down your search
Finance often available on site


Checking documentation is key before buying
Options are limited by stock
If a new warranty has expired, getting a used one could be a costly extra

Buying from a car broker

Brokers don’t technically sell cars themselves, instead connecting buyers with sellers. Therefore, buying from a broker could bring the best of both worlds – a wide variety of cars to choose from, sourced from trusted dealers.

This can also get you a great price as dealers compete for your business and removes the need to haggle in person. However, it does mean you might not get to see the car for real until it arrives.


Potential for massive savings to be made
Get results on cars that match your desired specification
You’ll find deals for lots of makes and models


You have to wait for your car to be delivered
Test drives can be trickier to organise
There might be additional fees for the broker

Get your next used car with carwow

Buying your used car on carwow is a great way to get a good deal. At carwow, you can search for the specific model you want, or find a variety of examples for sale that meet your needs.

Every car you see on carwow comes from one of our trusted dealers and has been mechanically checked with a warranty to give you peace of mind.

If you’re looking to sell your current car, carwow has you covered for that, too. Upload images of your car with some key details, and dealers will compete to give you the best price.

Buying from a classified website

Classified websites are a great way to research what car you are looking for, because there are potentially thousands of cars to search through. You can also narrow results down by price, body style, fuel type, and anything else you can think of to see what fits the bill.

Many of the cars you find will come from reputable dealers, but they also include private sellers that will require you to be more vigilant for potential issues. You will also have few options if the car breaks down after purchase.


Hundreds, if not thousands of cars to choose from
Some excellent deals to be had
Great for finding out what cars fit your specification


Risky buying from private sellers
If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is
The quality of cars can be hit and miss

Buying from an auction

Auctions can be a great place to buy a used car at a low price. This is where most dealers buy their stock, as manufacturers sell unsold vehicles and companies sell old fleet models.

It’s risky for private buyers, as there could be salvage vehicles that were deemed too expensive to repair or inaccurate reports on damage, so you have to do your research ahead of time while buying fees will be added on after the purchase.


Huge savings to be found
Decent variety of cars on offer


Vigilance is required to avoid dodgy cars
Buying fees can eat into your budget
It can be tricky to compete with seasoned bidders

What to look for when buying a used car

Wherever you end up buying a car, there are a few things you should be checking before parting with your hard-earned cash. You’ll find a more comprehensive list here, but the points below are your key things to look out for…

  • First of all, you should ask for the V5C, better known as the logbook. This document proves the person selling the car actually owns it.
  • Check the MOT history using the Government website to see if it has had major issues over the years.
  • Ask to see the service history to see if it’s been well looked after.
  • Listen to the engine for unusual sounds and start from cold, as a warm engine can mask issues.
  • Make sure the tyres have a good life on them. You could ask for them to be replaced, or for a discount, if they need changing.
  • Look inside for rips and tears in the upholstery and make sure features such as the air con work.
  • Check that any extras included in the advert are definitely on the car

Sell your car with carwow

If you’re looking to sell your current car before buying a new one, now you can sell your car with carwow.

All you need to do is provide some details on your car, take a selection of pictures and wait for the offers to roll in from a network of trusted dealers.

Once you have an offer you’re happy with, just accept it and the dealer buying will take care of the rest. All that’s left is to hand the keys over.