Buying a Used Car? Get This Ultimate Checklist!


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Buying a Used Car? Get This Ultimate Checklist!

Last updated on: July 25, 2023

When you buy a used car, this can usually be a smart and budget-friendly decision, but it can also be a daunting and risky process. Unfortunately, some used car dealerships and private sellers are not always upfront and honest about their vehicles’ condition, history, and price.

The key to a successful and satisfying used car buying experience is to do your research, ask the right questions, and negotiate wisely. In this blog post, we will share some essential tips for you to use when you buy a car (used or new) so that you can make an informed and confident decision.

What Statistics Say About Buying Used Cars

Used vehicles are the most popular vehicle type in the UK in 2021, representing over 82 per cent of passenger car sales in the country that year. This popularity has been deeply impacted by current automotive price inflation and supply chain shortages, particularly the semiconductor shortage in 2021.

Statistics show that consumer interest in the used vehicle market is rapidly growing. United Kingdom’s used car market reached 226.2 billion U.S. dollars in 2022, from 117.69 billion U.S. dollars in 2021.

Top Reasons to Buy a Used Car

While buying a new car can seem enticing, especially with showrooms and dealerships displaying the latest models, buying a used car can be a smart move. Apart from the obvious price benefit, there are several other reasons to consider when you decide to buy a car – used car may be a better option for you, and here’s why.


One of the main advantages of buying a used car in the UK is affordability. Like most assets, cars depreciate over time, and buying a used car means getting a vehicle that is still in good shape but at a much lower price than a new car.

In fact, you can often find high-quality used cars that are just a few years old at less than half the price of a new car. This makes buying a used car a great option for those on a budget or anyone wanting to save money.

Looking to supercharge your ride?

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Slower Depreciation

As mentioned earlier, new cars depreciate very quickly, and some models can lose up to 40% of their value in the first year alone. However, used cars don’t depreciate as quickly, and you will likely get a better return on your investment in the long run.

In other words, after a few years of ownership, you can sell your car for roughly the same price you paid for it or perhaps even earn a profit if you take good care of it.

Lower Insurance and Taxes

Another benefit of buying a used car in the UK is lower insurance and taxes. The cost of insuring a new car is usually much higher than a used car, and the same goes for car taxes as well. Since new cars are usually more expensive, the insurance companies and the government charge more to cover them. However, with a used car, you’ll likely pay lower insurance and taxes, which can lead to significant savings over the years.

Wide Selection of Used Cars for Sale 

Buying a used car in the UK also gives you access to a much wider selection of models and makes. Since you are not limited to the latest models, you can explore a range of used cars of various age groups and price ranges. This allows you to choose a car that suits your taste and budget.

As online car buying platforms are becoming more popular, there are plenty of used cars for sale, and you can find some great deals if you know where to look.

Easier to Customise

Buying a used car can be a great option if you love to modify or customise your car. With new cars, you are limited to buying the latest models, and there may be limitations on what you can modify without voiding the manufacturer’s warranty.

On the other hand, used cars give you greater flexibility to customise to your heart’s content without worrying about voiding the warranty.

As we’ve seen, several compelling reasons exist to buy a used car. From affordability to slower depreciation to lower insurance and taxes, used cars are a great option for savvy consumers.

So, the next time you’re in the market for a car, take the time to explore used cars. You may find the perfect car for your needs at a much more affordable price!

RELATED: A Quick Guide for First Time Car Buyers

Determine Your Budget and Needs When You Buy a Used Car

One of the first things you should do before buying a used car is to set a realistic budget and list your priorities and requirements. Consider factors such as your income, expenses, credit score, financing options, ULEZ compliance and the type, size, age, and mileage of the car you want. As a result, this will help you narrow down your search and avoid overspending or settling for a car that does not meet your needs.

Important When You Buy a Used Car: Verify Car History

Another crucial aspect of buying a used car is thoroughly inspecting its history and condition. You can access the vehicle’s history report online, providing information such as accidents, repairs, mileage, ownership, and title status.

Additionally, when you buy a car, used or new, you should take it for a test drive and have it inspected by a mechanic or trusted friend who knows about cars. During this process, look for signs of wear, damage, rust, leaks, odd noises, or other issues affecting the car’s safety, reliability, and resale value.

Transfer Used Car Ownership and Paperwork

Finally, when you buy a used car, you must transfer ownership and complete the paperwork to avoid legal and financial issues. You will need to obtain a title transfer and registration documents and pay taxes and fees. However, if you are financing the car, you must sign a loan agreement and provide proof of insurance. Keep all these documents organised and accessible in case you need them later.

RELATED: Buying a Used Vs. New Car: Advantages and Disadvantages

buy a used car - checklist for all car buyers

Buy a Used Car Checklist

When buying a used car, it’s important to be thorough and diligent to ensure you make a smart and informed decision. Here’s a checklist of items to consider:

1. Research and budget.

  •   Determine your car needs, preferences, and budget.
  •   Research different makes, models, and years that suit your requirements.
  •   Consider factors like fuel efficiency, maintenance costs, and reliability.

2. Car availability.

  • Contact the dealer to see if the car hasn’t been sold already.
  • Good news! When you buy a used car on a trusted car selling platform, you can be sure that the car is available since all listings update in real-time.

3. Vehicle history and documentation.

  •  Obtain the vehicle’s history report.
  •  Check for any reported accidents, financial history, and high-risk markers.
  •  Verify the registration (car plate check) and service history records.

4. Mileage and maintenance.

  • Verify the car’s mileage and compare it to the average for its age.
  • Check MOT history to ensure regular servicing and proper care.
  • Ensure the car has a valid MOT.

5. Vehicle identification number (VIN)

  •  Confirm that the vehicle’s VIN matches the registration documents’ VIN.
  • Check if the VIN has been tampered with or shows signs of alteration.

7. Financing and insurance.

  •  Explore your financing options and get pre-approved if necessary.
  •  Obtain insurance quotes for the specific car to estimate ongoing costs.
  • Review warranty options, if available, and understand their terms and coverage.

8. Legal and paperwork.

  • Ensure all necessary legal paperwork is in order, including title transfer and bill of sale.

10. Finalising the purchase.

  •   Make the payment securely.
  •  Obtain a receipt or proof of purchase.

Final Thoughts: What to Know When Buying a Used Car

These essential tips can help you get the best deal on a used car. Remember to set your budget and needs, check the car’s history and condition, negotiate the price and terms, and transfer ownership and paperwork properly. By doing so, you can avoid costly mistakes and enjoy your used car for years to come. As you can see, buying a used car from a trusted dealer is the best way to go.

Looking to upgrade your car?

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