Most people feel anxious at the thought of buying used cars, concerned that they don’t know enough about individual models or manufacturers to steer clear of extortionate prices. However, if you read on and take note of these top three mistakes to avoid, you should be able to visit a dealership or private seller with absolute confidence.

  1. Failing to arrange your finances properly

This is the most important part of any car deal. If you intend to buy a car on finance, never go straight to a dealership, where incredibly high premiums are charged. Instead, consult your building society or bank for a loan, which will often carry much better interest rates, particularly if you have a good credit rating.

Of course, the best financial circumstance you can have is to pay cash and negotiate a better sticker price face-to-face. Aside from this, take care to budget properly for all monthly running costs, insurance payments and so on; if you buy a car that’s too expensive for your income, you’ll run up debts quickly that can spiral out of control.

  1. Forgetting to test drive

Regardless of the story a seller gives you, you should never buy a car that states “sold as seen” within the description. You should always be given the opportunity to test drive a vehicle, and take advantage of it. A seller who refuses to permit this could be hiding something about the vehicle, such as a faulty engine, and you’ll have no way of getting your money back if you willingly took the vehicle.

On the other hand, test driving could throw up a set of issues you didn’t think about; for example, you might have your heart set on a specific car, but when you come to drive it, you might find the handling too tough or not like the size and feel of the car when you drive it.

  1. Not doing your research

Too many drivers who are eager to buy the car of their dreams don’t conduct enough research beforehand, and soon pay for it. Firstly, research cars that suit your needs the best rather than a specific brand you’ve always wanted – you might be able to find a much better priced vehicle that meets your requirements without breaking the bank.

Secondly, when you settle on a model, always shop around for the best deals in your area and look closely at the details of any incentives, as it could end up costing you more if you don’t take note of any additional fees. Thirdly, always look at customer reviews of the vehicle you want, taking note of factors like fuel economy, maintenance, handling, capacity, and be realistic about whether it will be right for your lifestyle.

If you’d like some more tips on buying used cars, check out this guide. Or, if you have some tips of your own to offer our readers, leave them in the comments section.

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