Buying a Used Car
Buying a used car, particularly a sports or classic car, can sometimes feel like a bit of a lottery. So what can be done to maximise the chances of buying well?
Here we share a few thoughts about what to look out for, things you should be considering, and what we think is important as a dealer to ensure our customers can confidently buy cars from us with which they'll be happy.
We also have a couple of buyers guides that cover some of the cars we specialise in, namely classic Morgans and Lotus Elises. If you'd like to request one of these guides, please click on the following links:
First impressions are important - does the car look 'right' inside and out? What about the person or dealer you're buying from? Are they knowledgeable and are they enthusiasts or is it 'just another car' to them and as such may not have been well looked after.
If you're buying from a dealer, find out what they do to check over and prepare a car before sale. Does it sound like they are conscientious and know what they're doing?
What's the service history like? Ideally the car has lots of history and evidence that it's been well cared for. If it hasn't, then either the supplying dealer needs to convince you that they've checked it over very thoroughly and done the servicing to bring it back up to schedule, or else the lack of history needs to be reflected in the price as you'll probably need to be prepared for some unwanted 'surprises'.
It's always worth insisting on a decent test drive, and ideally you do the driving. Obviously do make sure you're happy the car is roadworthy and you're insured.
HPI checks or similar are recommended as they can highlight problems with a car's history. For example if it still has finance owing on it, as even though you may pay the 'owner' in full for the car, until the finance house is paid off, the car won't actually belong to you. HPI checks will also show up accident damage if an insurance company has written the car off. However HPI checks won't show is a car has been in a more minor accident where an insurance company decided it could be repaired rather than written off.
By all means ask whether anything can be done on price. If you don't ask, you won't get! However, do bear in mind that the car may already be realistically priced and as such there may be minimal or zero movement, particularly when it comes to rare or specialist cars. And if a car is a good example and you're happy enough with the price, don't spend too long thinking about it. If you think it's good, the chances are high that another potential buyer will think the same and you may miss out!
On the subject of price, do your research and see what similar cars are selling for both privately and at dealers. Autotrader, Pistonheads, eBay and some of the specialist classic car websites will give you a feel for 'market prices'. Privately advertised cars should always be cheaper than thoroughly checked and prepared cars sold through a specialist dealer, but you may be surprised how often this is not the case...
In case you're wondering about the advantages of buying through a dealer rather than privately, the list below shows what we do, and what we think is important when it comes to our pre-owned cars:
- Very thorough check over and assessment of a car – mechanical, structural and condition. This typically takes us around 3 hours.
- Remedy problems identified by this check
- Full valet
- Carry out an HPI check
- Offer test drives on our insurance
- Service the car before sale
- Provide a new MOT
- Provide a warranty
- Help with finance or insurance recommendations if required
- Offer a part exchange service if required
- Arrange delivery if needed (extra cost)
- Give as much advice (hopefully objective!) as you would like on Morgan or Lotus ownership
And if you would like to find out more about some of the mechanical or structural things you should look out for when buying a classic styled Morgan or a Lotus Elise, our 'buyers guides' - mentioned earlier - can help.
For a copy of one of these guides, please click on one of the links below