Used car buyers guide

The Ultimate Used Car Buyer's Guide

Buying a used car can be a daunting task, but it doesn't have to be. With the right knowledge and preparation, you can find a reliable and affordable used vehicle that suits your needs and budget. In this comprehensive guide, we'll walk you through the essential steps and considerations for buying a used car.

Determine Your Budget

Before you start your search, it's crucial to establish a realistic budget. Consider not only the purchase price but also ongoing costs like insurance, road tax, fuel, and maintenance. Stick to your budget to avoid overextending your finances.

Research Makes and Models

Take time to research different makes and models that fit your requirements. Consider factors such as fuel efficiency, reliability, safety features and resale value. Online resources, reviews and automotive websites can provide valuable insights into the best-used cars for your needs.

Decide on New or Used

While this guide primarily focuses on buying used cars, it's essential to weigh the pros and cons of buying a new car as well. Used cars typically offer better value for money due to lower depreciation and you can also make some big savings looking at buying a car up to 1 year old against a typical new price. However new can also have advantages if you want to choose an exact specification or colour.

Set Your Priorities

Determine your priorities when it comes to vehicle size, type (saloon, SUV, hatchback, etc.), fuel type (petrol, diesel, hybrid, electric), and any specific features or options you must have.

Check Vehicle History

Always request the vehicle's history and ask to see to the V5C or logbook. This document contains vital information about the car's ownership history, number of owners etc. Also make sure that a Dealer has carried out the necessary checks to make sure the car is clear from any outstanding finance and not been in any major accidents via insurance claims.

Find a Reputable Seller

Choose a reputable seller, such as a franchised dealership, independent dealer, and a business who is well established with a good reputation. Check their recent reviews on Google and Autotrader to help you make an informed decision.

Inspect the Car

Inspect the car thoroughly, or better yet, have a trusted mechanic or a professional inspection service check it for you. Look for signs of wear and tear, rust, accidents and evidence of poor maintenance. Don't hesitate to ask the seller questions about the vehicle's history and condition. Make sure that the seller is going to inspect the vehicle and put it through its proper checks. Most reputable dealers will give you minimum of 12 months warranty with the option to extend giving you total peace of mind.

Test Drive

Take the car for a test drive to assess its performance. Pay attention to the engine, brakes, steering, suspension and transmission. Listen for unusual noises and vibrations and test all the car's features, such as air conditioning, audio system and electronics.

Check the Price

Although negotiation on price is always useful, many of the Used Car Platforms like Autotrader will give you an indicator if the car is of fair or good value. These are updated daily and are the best way to check if you are getting value for money.

Arrange for Financing

If you need financing, explore your options and secure a pre-approved loan before finalising the purchase. Many Dealers have their own finance facilities and can fix you up with funding relatively quickly. Always ask for a quote.

Complete the Necessary Paperwork

Ensure that all necessary paperwork is in order, including the V5, MOT (if applicable), service history, and the receipt of purchase. Verify that the details match the information provided by the seller.

Finalise the Sale

Once you are satisfied with the inspection, price, and paperwork, complete the sale. Pay the agreed-upon amount, transfer ownership and update the V5 with your information.

Maintaining and looking after your car

There are many products and services to consider to keep your new car in tip top condition. Think about protecting the paintwork with enhanced paint protection, and mats all round to stop the carpets wearing. Also consider purchasing a Servicing Plan to protect you from rising prices and also build a relationship with your trusted dealer. Always as about these products.


Buying a used car in the UK can be a rewarding experience when approached with diligence and careful consideration. By following this comprehensive guide and doing your due diligence, you can find a reliable and cost-effective used vehicle that will serve you well for years to come. Remember that patience and research are key to making a smart investment in your next used car.

At Fred Coupe Motor Store we have over 150 used vehicles in stock. We can take the headache out of buying your used car, offering finance packages to suit your needs. All of our used vehicles come with 12 months warranty, 12 months Roadside assistance and every vehicle has a 100 point safety check to give you peace of mind.

If we haven’t got the car in stock ask about our Car Finder service where our experts will go out and find you the right car at the right price!

Contact our sales team to see how we can assist with the purchase of your used car today.