10 top tips for buying 'used'

2013-05-16 08:38

Earlier in 2013 we reported on Retail Motor Industry Organisation CEO, Jeff Osborne, stating that the time to buy a car is NOW in 2013. He predicts an 8% rise in vehicle sales.

What if you can't afford a new ride? What about the used-car market?

Autocar UK’s used-car expert James Ruppert reveal the secrets of Bangernomics, showing savvy car buyers the contrasts of buying a new car with the good sense of buying a used one.


Accoring to Ruppert, following his guide will lead to "slashed running costs, depreciation no longer becomes an issue and there are no finance charges."

Ruppert said: “Bangernomics makes you feel good about owning a car. In fact, you will have a warm green glow from recycling a used car, prolonging its life and, we hope, seeing a slightly larger balance on your bank account. Not only is Bangernomics easy, it is mostly fun.

"You learn some skills, waste less money and have a new topic of dinner-party conversation."

Volkswagen Golf Mark 2 from £495 (R6969)
Mercedes 190E from £395 (R5561)
BMW 5-series from £595 (R8387)
Saab 900 from £450 (R6335)
Nissan Micra from £299 (4216)

STEP ONE: Get Bangernomics senses.
Use your eyes, ears and nose to check the car’s vital signs. Does the engine sound ropey? Can you smell oil?

Condition is key
There is no excuse for buying an un-roadworthy heap. How does the bodywork look?

Under the bonnet
Take a look and take a mate or vehicle expert with you to get a valuable second opinion on the car.

Around the body
Check that the doors, windows, bonnet and boot open and close, and don’t be afraid to walk away if the car looks rust riddled.

Check they have a legal depth of tread, even wear across the tyre and no serious blemishes or damage.

STEP SIX: Paperrwork
The registration document is an absolute must. Obtain a data check to make sure it isn’t stolen, still on finance or a write-off.

STEP SEVEN: Start the engine
Check that the vehicle starts cleanly and that there is no smoke billowing from the exhaust.

STEP EIGHT: Play with the buttons
Prod and press all the knobs, dials and handles to make sure they work properly.

STEP NINE: Test drive
Engage the gears and pull sharply away. You don’t want to hear crashes, bangs, screeches or whines or feel a saggy suspension.

STEP TEN: After the drive
Look under the bonnet with the engine running – check for leaks, smoke or strange noises.


Spending a few minutes checking, cleaning and fussing over your car each week will make a big difference. After a few weeks you will notice the difference; it will perform better, last longer and be cheaper to run.

Check and change your oil regularly. Oil is the life blood of your car, providing vital lubrication, so look at the dipstick before every journey and make sure it nudges the maximum mark. Change your oil regularly, especially if you only cover short journeys - at least every six months.

Check your brake fluid and water. You will soon notice if there are sudden drops and a garage can identify any problem and prevent further - possibly major - damage.

Look to see if there are any fluid leaks from hoses or any loose belts. If you hear any strange noises, investigate before a minor fault becomes a major expense. Of course, regular servicing is a must and so is bodywork hygiene. Cleaning keeps corrosion at bay and also means you inspect every area of the car carefully.

  • Andrew Van Der Watt - 2013-05-16 08:59

    STEP ELEVEN: Pull a TransUnion Car Value verification report (using their CarValue app). I nearly bought a 2010 car that the salesman was trying to pass off as a 2012 model. Since this incident, I'm telling everyone to do their homework first...

  • Adrian Snyman - 2013-05-16 10:06

    In South Africa, the used car market is honestly skewed. Those figures for used cars - take those RAND amounts, and in some cases they are multiplied by 6-10 TIMES what we pay for the equivalent used car here ...

  • Zeyad Van Greuning - 2013-05-16 12:36

    step 12, post a survey based on South Africa and not a copy and paste from some UK article...Maybe I should read UK articles instead of local ones...weak man...really weak

  • Mzwandile Gumede - 2013-05-17 11:26

    I totally agree with you Adrian buying a used car in SA is same as buying a new one, car prices in our country are ridiculous yeses

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