There are various ways to buy a second-hand car. Perhaps the cheapest way of all is to buy through a car auction – but unless you really know a lot about cars – it’s also the riskiest method. You only get to have a quick look at the car, usually with a bunch of other people trying to do the same thing. Also, there’s the danger of getting carried away in the bidding process, and paying more than you planned.

On the other hand – buying a second-hand car from a dealership is usually the most expensive method. At least with this option you’re also buying yourself some protection against mechanical failure.

Don’t rely on that warranty to get you out of the woods, though. The problem here is, as most of us know, the chances of getting any faults properly rectified before the warranty runs out are slim.

Perhaps the wisest of all approaches is to buy privately, either through an ad from the newspaper, car magazine or online sites. In this way, you have the chance to have a really good look at the car – or better yet, to get a qualified mechanic to do this for you.  You should also take the car for a test drive, and make sure you get up to a decent speed to check for anything that you might not notice when you’re driving around the 30mph streets.

Buying from a friend or relative may also be a good idea. But it’s fraught with danger, too. So again – it’s best to get an expert view. After all, even Grandma may not be aware of pending problems. The last thing you want to do is to fall out with a friend or relative over car problems.

And with more modern cars, potential mechanical problems are much harder to spot. The types of eco cars UK drivers are increasingly searching for often have parts that are beyond the normal, pre-buy inspection methods for mechanics not well-versed in inspecting hybrids and the like. So make sure the person inspecting the car has the necessary knowledge.

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The best way to buy a second-hand car