If you’re looking for a new set of wheels, a second-hand car is a great option as they’re cheaper and usually better value for money.
You can buy second hand cars from local car dealerships around the UK, a private seller, (someone just selling their old vehicle) or at a live auction (where you bid either in person or online).
When considering which vehicle to buy, think about what you want your car to do. What size do you need? Will it be expensive to maintain or insure?
Make sure you ask the right questions. When choosing a car, ask the seller about the:
Car dealers are a good option if you:
Ask the car dealer:
You have limited rights at an auction because if you buy as seen and something is wrong, there’s little you can do. Some auctions offer insurance to protect you in case the car you buy is stolen. Others offer a cooling-off period, although this could be only a few hours.
Here’s some advice from Tim Naylor at British Car Auctions: Do your homework and find out how much the car is worth and how much to bid. Bring someone with you who knows a lot about cars if you’re a novice.
If you want to buy a car from the comfort of your sofa, an internet auction is for you. Downsides are that you can’t view the car in person or take it for a test drive.
Your rights change depending on the different types of sales on internet auction sites. For example, Buy-it-now on eBay is not an auction sale, as you’re paying a set price rather than bidding. If you do this, you may well have the same rights as if you bought it from a dealer face-to-face.
Be sure to read through any online auction’s terms and conditions before you buy.
Private sellers can offer good deals, although you have very few legal rights buying this way. The car should match its description and it must be roadworthy.
The seller must have a vehicle registration certificate and be the legal owner of the car. If they break a specific contract term, you may be able to claim against them.
Ask the seller:
If you put down a deposit but later decide you don’t want the car, you probably won’t get your money back unless the seller agreed it was returnable. But if you change your mind before you get the car, the seller can’t force you to buy it.
There are a number of ways to buy the perfect car for you, including:
Sometimes purchases don’t work out and you may want to try and get your money back. If your car develops a problem soon after you bought it, stop using it and return it along with its documents, such as:
Depending on the fault and the severity of the problem, you can ask for a full refund, repair, replacement or compensation. You may need to get a second opinion from a trade association. Try the AA or RAC.
If the problem is severe and you part-exchanged your old car then you’re entitled to have it returned if it’s still available, or receive a full-value refund if it’s been destroyed.
If you think the seller isn’t operating in the correct way, contact Citizen’s Advice for help.
If the seller claims not to have a vehicle registration certificate (a V5C), ask them to reapply for another from the DVLA before you buy the car. If you discover your new car is actually stolen, then unfortunately, your motor still belongs to its original owner.