Most people that have bought a new car have experienced the sorry moment when you realise you haven’t bought the car of your dreams. It started well enough. You hand over your cash and drive away, happy that have got away with a good deal.

Except it wasn’t. First, the hubcaps fall off. Then you notice the window doesn’t open. And by the time you get to the end of the seller’s road, there is smoke billowing out of the bonnet.

But there are some simple tips to make sure you get the best car for your money. There are no guarantees, of course, but follow these guidelines and your used car buying experience should be a far better one.

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Finding The Car

Your first job is to find out what your budget can afford. Look online for used car deals to give you an idea of how much you will be paying. Look into mileage, the age of the car, make and model. Make a note of how different condition issues affect the price. You may need to apply this tactic if a seller has been economical with the truth, and there is visible damage when you visit them. Head over to our article on buying a used car from a dealer for more tips.

Use A Dealer

If you are worried about buying a car from a private seller, then don’t. There is no going back when you use a private seller, and once you have signed the documents and handed over the cash, you will own the car. A well-respected dealer will have a reputation to protect, and is far more likely to deal with your concerns.

Bring A Friend

Bring a friend with you when visiting a dealer or private seller. They don’t even have to know much, but they should look like they do! Having two people to impress will automatically put the seller in a more ‘flexible’ mood.

Check Documentation

Make sure you see all the documentation for the car you intend to buy. It should have a full history of check-ups, ideally, although this isn’t a legal requirement. Don’t be afraid to ask questions to the seller. If they have nothing to hide, they won’t mind at all. If you suspect they are hiding something, just walk away.

Take Her For A Drive

Always try and get a test drive in any used car. It is the only real way to hear and feel the engine, and you don’t need to have the sharpest ear to realise something is wrong. Get a feel for the car and question any little kinks there might be in the steering or gears. Make the most of this time. It could be your only opportunity to form a solid opinion of whether to buy or not.

Stick To Your Price

Offer the price you have in mind. Stick to it, and don’t go above the offer. If you have done all of your homework, you should have a good idea of its value, so don’t go paying over the odds. Never forget that however much you want the car, you are always in charge of the situation. You can walk away at any time – and there will always be a better used car to buy.