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How to buy a cheap car

Buying a car is never easy, unless you happen to know someone who’s selling a car that happens to be just what you’re looking for, and they’re asking a reasonable price for it.

Usually, though it’s not that simple.

Many people will never buy new, and the biggest reason for not doing so is the fact that cars are one of the fastest depreciating assets on the planet. As soon as you’ve driven it off the forecourt, you’ve wiped thousands off the value.

So, if you’re going to buy second-hand where should you start? If you know what kind of car you want, hone your searches – the internet’s a good place to start – for that particular make and model. Going to a dealer will give you some kind of warranty, which can be reassuring if you’re not too familiar with the mechanics of a car. You can go back to them if there are any problems. However, dealer prices are more expensive than private sellers’.

You may be thinking it’s time to buy one of the hybrid cars consumers are increasingly turning to, but these are a little harder to come by on the second-hand market as they are relatively new and people are not trading them in as often as conventionally fuelled cars.

Pretty much all cars are producing lower emissions than those manufactured a decade ago, so by trading up to a more recent model, you’ll be reducing the amount of CO2 emissions that you contribute to the planet. If you can get your hands on one of the many petrol/electric or diesel/electric that are now available, you’ll be saving money on fuel costs too, as the hybrids have small fuel-efficient petrol engines that are assisted by an electric motor.

If you find a car being sold by a private seller, then it’s really worth paying an extra £100 or so to get it professionally checked by a mechanic. This way you’ll get an impartial opinion of whether the car is worth the price being asked for it, and a heads-up on any problems that you might not be able to spot for yourself.

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