10 ways to bag a used car bargain in 2020

Planning to buy a used car in 2020? Don’t take the plunge until you’ve read our 10 top tips for getting the best deal...

10 ways to bag a used car bargain in 2019

4. Look up the MOT history online

10 ways to bag a used car bargain in 2019

This tool is incredibly useful and is completely free to use. If you’re looking at a car that’s over three years old, it will have gone through an MOT inspection. By putting the registration number into the search box, it’ll show you the results of the test including any advisory or fail points. If there is anything mentioned, you should make a note of it because this will give you a checklist of items to inspect when you go to see the car. It’ll also allow you to start looking into how much it might cost you to replace these parts. Make sure to factor that into your negotiations with the dealer regarding the price.  

3. Check how much your car was when new

10 ways to bag a used car bargain in 2019

If you are looking to purchase a car registered after 1 April 2017, then it is important to know how much it was when it was new. Any car registered before this date has to pay an annual vehicle excise duty (VED) based on the carbon dioxide (CO2) figure produced by the engine and this information is usually quite easy to find out. After this date, it is a flat rate fee of £145 with an additional £320 surcharge for any car that had a list price of over £40,000 when new. That last point is very important because this extra charge applies for five years, starting from when the vehicle is two years old and finishing when it reaches six years of age.

Working out whether a car falls foul of this surcharge isn’t simply as straightforward as looking at the price of an equivalent car in the back of a magazine. For example, a Kia Stinger GT-S has an on-the-road price of £40,535, so you’d be forgiven for thinking it incurs this extra charge. However, the current taxing system is based on a car’s list price along with any manufacturer extras, and doesn’t include the vehicle’s first-year tax payment (which is based on CO2 emissions) or the cost of aftermarket, dealer fit options. So, based on the 221g/km CO2 figure produced by the Kia, we can deduct £1240 from that overall figure to get a list price of £39,295. Even if we add on the option of metallic paint (£645), it just manages to avoid the additional fee.

2. Shop around for finance

10 ways to bag a used car bargain in 2019

The majority of used cars are bought on finance these days and many buyers take out hire purchase or PCP deals with the dealer from which they’re buying the car. This is a convenient way of buying, but it doesn’t always translate to the best rate of interest.

By contrast, a personal loan, if it’s available to you, can work out much better value for money. Because you don’t have the added financial instruments open to PCP and hire purchase buyers (ie a large deposit and/or a balloon payment), the monthly repayments are higher, which is why this option isn’t as attractive to many. But there are two key positives: first, of course, if you have good credit, the interest is usually lower with this type of finance arrangement; in effect, you’re paying less for the credit because you pay more off sooner. Second, you own the car throughout – something you don’t do until the finance is paid off with the other two options.

However you obtain your finance, though, it’s key to remember that you don’t necessarily have to get it from one place. Independent finance houses, some specialising in car finance, offer alternatives, while other dealers might offer a very similar car with a better finance deal. Do your homework, shop around and make sure you aren’t paying over the odds.