How to buy a used car

October 29, 2018 by

It’s no secret that buying a used car can make more sense than buying a new car – but some people are put off, despite all the advantages. If you’re one of those who don’t know where to start or are just a bit cautious, carwow can help.

We’ve made sure that buying a used car through carwow will give you complete peace of mind. Not only will the car come from a reputable dealer who’s approved by the car manufacturer, the car itself will be checked over before it’s sold.

To see the stock of used cars on the site, you’ll need to be signed in as a registered user, but that’s a very simple process that you can do by clicking this sign in link.

If you’re not sure which is the right car for you, try our car chooser tool or, if you’re still tempted by the thought of a new car, have a look at the latest offers on our car deals page. Then, check out our PCP calculator to get an idea of how much it might cost on finance.

What are the advantages of buying a used car?

First and foremost, the big advantage is price: a used car will be much cheaper than the equivalent new car. As soon as a new car is registered – even if it’s not sold – it starts to lose value; and, pretty much every mainstream car will keep losing value for the rest of its life.

Naturally, the older a car is and the more miles it has on the clock, the more its value will drop. But, what may surprise you is that cars lose the biggest part of their value at the start of their life. So, you can find bargains, even among quite young cars.

The second big advantage is that you won’t have to wait as long to get get hold of a used car as you would if you ordered a new car. In some cases, you can see a car, test it, buy it and drive it away all on the same day. Here on carwow, we quote an average of a two-week wait, but that’s still much less time than you’d have to wait for a new car that you ordered from the factory. In some instances, that could take months.

What are the disadvantages of buying a used car?

Flippant as it sounds, the simple disadvantage is that the car is used and you can’t be sure how it’s been used. You won’t be its first owner – which is important to some people – and you won’t be able to choose exactly what you want in terms of colour, equipment, engine and so on. You have to rely on someone having chosen what you want when they ordered a new car.

Naturally, that’s less of a problem if you’re looking for a popular car. When models sell in such huge numbers as the likes of the Ford Fiesta and Volkswagen Golf, for example, you should be able to find almost exactly what you want fairly quickly and quite close to home.

However, if you’re looking for something a little more obscure – whether it be the car itself or a particular piece of equipment – it may take a little more shopping around to find it, and you may need to travel further afield.

Finally, you may also find that some of the best offers are only available on brand new cars. So, if you’re buying on finance, it’s important that you look at the details of any offer. In extreme cases – if there’s a big deposit contribution or zero per cent finance on a new car, for instance – it’s possible that the monthly costs can work out cheaper on a new car.

To get an idea of the relative costs involved, check out our car deals page and PCP calculator.

Why buy a used car from carwow?

If you’re looking to buy a used car, then you’re already in the right place. As thousands of people have already found with a new car, here on carwow, buying a car is a wonderfully simple and reassuring process.

For a start, the used cars on our site are all still quite young and from manufacturer-approved dealers. Each one has been checked over, too, so you don’t have to worry about buying something with a shady history or a car that will let you down.

On top of that, all the prices you’ll see here are fixed. That means what you see is what you’ll pay, so there you won’t have to go through the haggling process that so many people find uncomfortable.

It’s only natural to worry that the prices will be relatively high as a result, but every dealer on the site is committed to offering their best deal up front. On top of that, you can also see reviews for dealers next to each other, so you can choose to buy from someone you know you’re going to get good service from.

Also thanks to the number of dealers signed up to carwow, there’s a huge amount of stock to choose from, and that increases your chances of finding what you want. And, with some retailers offering home delivery, you might not need to visit the dealership at all.

What’s an Approved Used car?

All of the cars on our site are checked over before they’re sold, but some undergo extra pre-sales checks so that they qualify as Approved Used cars. In addition to those checks, they may also come with extra warranty or breakdown cover.

As a result, they can be a little more expensive than the equivalent non-Approved car. But, given the extra cover they come with, not to mention the extra peace of mind they bring, they can still represent good value for money.  

Can you buy a used car on finance?

In a word, yes. Just as you can with a new car, you can buy a used car using a package that spreads the cost over an agreed period of time – usually two or three years.

You can get finance from a number of sources, but on carwow, the cars are available through a PCP scheme, which stands for Personal Contract Purchase. You arrange everything with the dealer selling the car and it works like this: you pay an initial deposit followed by a series of monthly payments over an agreed amount of time.

The monthly payment remains the same throughout the term, and after the final payment, you can choose from one of three options: pay an amount (agreed at the start of the scheme) to buy the car outright, hand the car back (with nothing more to pay) or use the ‘equity’ (the car should be worth more than predicted at the start of the term) as a deposit to buy your next car.

Can I use a part-exchange to buy a used car?

Again, the simple answer is yes. When you buy a used car, you won’t necessarily have to come up with the whole purchase price in cash. If you have another car that you want to get rid of, you can use the value of that as part-payment for your next car.

The process works in a very simple way. Say you want to buy a car that costs £10,000 and your car is valued at £2,000, you only have to pay £8000 in cash and use your car to fund the balance.

By far the majority of dealers on carwow will consider taking a part-exchange, so perhaps the hardest part is to work out how much your car is worth. This will probably involve some degree of negotiation, as the value of your car will depend on a variety of factors – including its age, mileage and condition. It will also depend on how much the dealer wants it, so a car that will be easy to sell will be more attractive than one that isn’t.

As long as you’re signed in to carwow, you can get a valuation before you start. These figures are provided by CAP, which is used by 9 out of 10 dealers in the UK. Be aware that the person you’re dealing may not agree with the valuation, but it’s at least a starting point for discussion.