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A complete woman’s guide to buying used cars (part 1)

Buying a new car is an exciting, yet fairly daunting time and buying a used car can complicate things further, not least because there is so much choice out there at the moment! Whilst men are traditionally thought of as the main car buyers, the fact is that it’s actually women who influence the largest percentage of car sales. So it goes without saying that women generally know what they want when it comes to car functionality.

The used car market is thriving, so you can get some great deals on cars that are only a few years old or ‘nearly new’.  Often the hardest part is narrowing down your choice in the first place.

What features do you need in a car?

The first step once you’ve decided to change your current car is to think about which features are most important to you. Are you interested in the amount of torque a car has, the horsepower available or how long it takes to get from 0-60 mph? Or is it more important to know how many miles per gallon (mpg) it does, how much it costs to run and how likely it is to break down?

Think about what you will be using the car for – long journeys (in which case mpg is important), business (in which case you’ll need plenty of space) or short trips around town (will stop/start technology be important)? Do you need lots of boot space for shopping or children’s prams? If yes, then you can narrow down your search to hatchbacks. The list is somewhat endless and only you will know what is important and what isn’t.

Make a note

Simply writing down some of the key features your used car needs to have can help you narrow down your search significantly. Perhaps you’ve seen a few cars parked out on the road that you quite like the look of – make a note of their make and model. Or perhaps one of your friends drives a car that you would like some more information on. Magazine and TV adverts are an ever-present source of inspiration when you’re thinking of buying a car, so pay close attention to them too.

Now that you’ve got an idea of what you need and also what type of car you can see yourself driving, you can start to do your research.

Research, Research, Research!

Researching used cars online is so much easier than researching brand new models, not least because there are so many first-hand reviews available. is a great site if you’re seeking reliable owner’s reviews – here you can get a great idea of what it’s like to actually own your chosen model as well as an insight into those little known characteristics that only an owner would know about.

Car comparison sites are also a great way to compare your ‘wanted features’ checklist with a number of similar models, for example, the Audi A3 and Volkswagen Golf.  What Car? Has a fantastic car comparison widget on their website which displays all of the features of up to three cars alongside each other. Here, it’s possible to compare features such as specifications, mpg, NCAP ratings and insurance groups at a glance!

Face to Face or Online?

When it comes to actually purchasing your used car once again you’re faced with a few choices – should you buy online or offline, from a private seller or a trade seller? Many people now sell their cars privately by parking them in prominent places around town and leaving their contact details in the window – if you spot the car you want, it’s easy to arrange a viewing simply by calling the owner and telling them you’re interested. If you’d rather buy from a used car dealer, it’s often difficult to know where to go. Here, Google is your friend. Just type in ‘Audi’ or ‘Volkswagen’ for example, followed by ‘used’ and your home town for instant access to all the places you can buy from locally.

Purchasing a car online isn’t as scary as it used to be either and is becoming more and more commonplace. Again, there are lots of sites where both private and trade sellers can list their cars for sale – Auto Trader being the most popular example. When looking online don’t be afraid to call the owner up and ask any additional questions you might have before arranging a viewing. 

Worry free purchasing

Almost all large dealer groups have a used cars section on their website or on their forecourt. The benefits of buying from them of course is that you have the safety net of a large organisation if something were to go wrong as well as the possibility of obtaining a used car warranty.

The plethora of information available on used cars really does take the worry away from making a ‘bad’ or ‘ill-informed’ decision. The only thing left for you to do is to look forward to taking a few of them out for a test drive!

To be continued in Part 2 …..

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  1. Great article Katie.. covered pretty much everything on purchasing used cars.. Good Tips to any one looking to buy used cars.

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