Tips for seniors buying a “new” second-hand car

Is your old clunker giving up the ghost? Maybe you want something more reliable but aren’t prepared to splash out on something new – and with car prices these days, who can blame you! But there’s way more than meets the eye with buying a used car, especially if you’re going to buy from a private seller. Do you even enter the EV used market, where you can save up big on fuel costs? Here are some tips to make sure you get a good deal – and don’t get ripped off.


Establishing a use case and a budget

You must establish a strict budget if you’re looking to buy a used automobile. How much can you afford for insurance, petrol (or electricity, if you’re going electric) and other expenses such as stamp duty? Will a caravan be towed by it? Can a vehicle be off-road capable? This might assist you in selecting your “wants.” Would you want a satnav? Do you want a safer, newer vehicle? To hurry up the process, narrow down your search to a select few manufacturers and models and go from there.


Different types of used cars to choose from

Used cars have different types of classifications and can differ on how much they’ve been used. The “classic” used car sold as it is; a certified used car, no older than three years, reconditioned by the manufacturer and offered with an extended warranty; and demonstrator cars, which may have 5,000–10,000km on the odometer and are used for test drives by dealers, potentially putting more wear on the engine. The latter two are significantly less expensive than brand-new cars, although they are offered at a higher price than privately owned used cars, albeit for valid reasons (such as the guarantee and refurbishing). This can go a long way to help in choosing a new vehicle.


Tyre kicking and test driving

Whether you’re buying dealer refurbished or as is, you need to do your own inspection. That means looking at the logbook, noting the VIN to ensure it isn’t a write off or stolen, and taking a test drive. You should also check if all the electrics work, if the handling veers off or is “sticky,” check the oil and fluid levels, and the exterior chassis for dings and nicks. This can influence your negotiated price, too.


Avoiding scams

There are many scams related to the online sale of cars. One of the most common scams is a fraudster posing as a vendor may SMS saying they must leave the country for military or job reasons. They must sell immediately and need a deposit to assure delivery. They take your money and go. They might even use their COVID or flu-phobia saying they can’t meet in person. They may insist on meeting after dark in a distant parking lot or abandoned building, putting you at risk. If you want to ensure they aren’t a scammer, ask to meet at a police station during the day. If you don’t hear anything back… you dodged a scammer!


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