5 Tips When Buying a Used Car

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Buying a used car is far cheaper than buying a new vehicle. Sure, it’s nice to be the first owner of your new pride and joy, but cash is king in any climate and new cars can depreciate as much as 40% within the first year of being on the road. A used car can be a sound investment but with cynical sellers and cars with murky pasts, and who knows how many sellers to choose from – the marketplace can be a minefield. 

“Fail to prepare and prepare to fail” is the old adage that couldn’t be more appropriate when buying a used car, so give yourself a head start and check out our top 5 tips when buying a used car!  

What vehicle do I need?

This question is probably something you already know the answer to. Is it a wee run-around you are after or maybe a people carrier for the family? Is it a workhorse van or a pleasure vehicle you can take the top down and scoot up and down the NC500 every summer? Either way, you should know what you’re looking for before you start the search for the vehicle. 

Fuel efficiency may be a concern too, If you’re using the car to travel down the A9 to work daily and racking up the miles, you might want to think about a small engine petrol vehicle, or maybe even an electric or hybrid model? That’ll help with your fuel efficiency and keep those all-important regular travel costs down!

Another thing to be mindful of is extra expenses beyond the car’s price tag. Costs like road tax and insurance, cost of servicing, repair and MOT can push up the yearly costs.

Once you have an idea of what you’re after, you can have a look at what is available out there that ticks all your boxes.

How much do you want to pay?

Once you’ve worked out what kind of vehicle it is you’re after, it’s time to match it to your budget. Search high and low in every place possible. From dealerships and classified ads in newspapers to online care sales sites and websites like gumtree are a great place to find a bargain.

You might be able to get a cash discount from a motivated seller, so don’t be afraid to ask if you have the readies ready! You might find yourself in a place where finance is an option, but be mindful that if you’re buying from a dealership, the rates from their associated credit lender might not be your best deal. Shop around and see where you can get the best interest rate otherwise you might be stuck buying more for the car in the end than you wanted to.

 Do Your Research

You’ve searched high and low and you’ve tracked down the car you want. The money is in the bank but doesn’t transfer the coin yet! Remember to complete a full history check on the registration number, ensuring that the car hasn’t been written off or stolen. The last thing you want to be stuck with is a pure lemon or someone else’s car!

It’s dead easy to check any car’s identity on the DVLA website. Just enter the car’s reg number and the website will give you useful identifying information on the car like the engine size, colour, and even its road tax expiration date. If there’s any mismatch between the information and the car, reconsider buying it may not be the deal you think it is!

Before you part with any cash, check any paperwork the seller has. Ideally, they will have the service history and past MOT certificates. It’s always worth being vigilant and researching as much as you can to avoid any disappointment in the future

Check the car’s condition and take a test drive

Before any money changes hands, make sure and have a good look at the car.

  • Check the tread on tyres and the bodywork for dents and scratches as well as rust. Inspect the hidden nooks and crannies like under the wheel arches for rust.
  • Check the oil level is correct and for any oil or water leaks as these can indicate serious engine problems.
  • Test the lights, heating, heated screens and seats and radio. Newer cars have a lot more bells and whistles, but it will be worth your time to check all the non-engine electrics and features, as they can be expensive to fix and there’s nothing more annoying than finding out the Bluetooth is broken on your first road trip!

A test drive will allow you to check how the car performs. Check how the car accelerates and the brakes, and give the clutch and gearbox a good going over to make sure nothing feels untoward. As you drive, listen out for any strange noises as any clunks, shunts, or rattles can indicate unresolved mechanical problems.

If you’re not particularly confident in your skills spotting any of these issues, try and convince a friend to come with you to have a look. A second pair of eyes and ears can always help!


There’s always room for haggling on a price, especially if the seller is motivated to sell. Like houses, few sellers expect to get the asking price. Paying with cash can also motivate the seller to drop the price a little. When negotiating the price, keep in mind any issues you may have discovered when you checked the car. If the tyres are worn, there’s a wee scratch here and there, or the radio doesn’t work, make sure that it’s reflected in the price of the car. Your research on the car should prove invaluable when discussing the average price of the model too.  

The best mechanics near me

Finding the right used car can be difficult, but when you do it, take care of that car and the car will take care of you. Take that new car to the best garage services in Inverness – IT Garage Services! It’s your one-stop-shop for car repair in Inverness providing services like:

  • Car servicing Inverness
  • MOTs Inverness
  • Brake tests and repair
  • Fast fit services Inverness
  • Diagnostics and repair.

And many more local garage services that’ll keep your used car in tip-top condition.

Where to find the best garage near me

You can find the best garage in Inverness – IT Garage Services at

35H Harbour Rd Inverness IV1 1UA

Contact us now to book an appointment or for any enquiries:

01463 229922


Mon-Fri 08am- 06pm

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