Which camp do you belong to? The one that says real bargains are out there and waiting to be snapped up? Or are you firmly in the camp that says "you get what you pay for"? Like most people, experience puts me firmly in the latter, but I'm equally sure that somewhere there are some real quality used car bargains to be had - if you look hard enough and if you have the expertise to spot a gem from a lemon. And there lies the rub. Few of us possess the expertise and knowledge to be able to tell them apart, and how many of us have a qualified mechanic as a best mate? When it comes to buying quality cheap used cars, unless you know what you are doing you are at risk. So, how do you minimise your exposure to a potentially bad deal? The car associations such as the RAC and AAA offer varying types of vehicle inspection, depending upon the degree of examination you need. But, as well as visual and mechanical inspections there are other things you need to do to protect yourself.
Some are fairly obvious; if buying from a private individual don't hand over any money before you get the keys and documents to the vehicle. Beware, if people insist you pay a hefty deposit up front in cash. You may never see your money, the car nor the person you dealt with again! Also ensure that you protect yourself as much as possible by asking all the right questions. Try to ascertain whether the car has been repaired or rebuilt as a result of an accident as that will significantly affect its value.
Also, if the car is fairly new make sure you ask whether there is any outstanding finance due on the vehicle. But, the biggest rule is if something seems too good to be true, it invariably is. If a car is worth £10,000 and someone says they are willing to sell it for £3,000 because they want a quick sale - beware! A quick sale doesn't necessitate a 70% discount! In the circumstances described it will most probably be a scam, and to be avoided at all costs. One last tip; before even going to look at a vehicle, make sure you've done your homework.
Know what sort of price the car you are interested in should be retailing for and make allowances for condition and mileage. In summary, just be sensible. Steer clear of "too good to be true" bargains because they are. But, make sure you have a clear idea of what the car you are interested in should sell for then negotiate to get a bargain, don't wait for one to be handed to you on a plate.
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