Guide to buying a used car

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Pros and cons of buying a used car

Buying a used car?

When buying a car, you’re likely going to consider which is the more reliable, yet cost-efficient option. Used cars sometimes have a bit of stigma attached. Will they break down as soon as you drive them off the forecourt? The answer is, very unlikely, but before you make the decision, we’ve collated a few of the top pros and cons when it comes to buying a used car. 



Above everything else, it’s a much less expensive option than buying brand new. New cars lose money the moment you drive them off the forecourt and buying used means although it’s had a few owners before yourself, you’re getting a much better deal overall. It also means you’re less likely to have to take out credit in order to afford it, which in turn, keeps your monthly outgoings down, too. 

Service & NCT history

Legally, every car needs to be given an annual National Car Test (NCT) to keep it roadworthy and safe. Buying a used car means you can see all the NCT history, as well as any advisories or watch-outs. This means it’s difficult to hide anything, so the owner always has to be honest. 

If you’re lucky enough, the car will come with service history, too. If it has full-service history, you know it’s been in good hands for the past several years. 

Car Service


Buying used vehicles are notoriously lower in price to insure than a brand new car, which is another well-recognised bonus

When buying a car, it’s unlikely you want to spend more than you need to, so going for a used model is probably the better option when it comes to cost-efficient insurance. 


Hidden Faults

A common way for people to sell cars is ‘sold as seen’. This means if any faults occur after the new owner has driven away, the previous owner can be in no way liable for any of this. This has the potential to become a huge risk when buying a used car, so make sure you carry out prior research and check the car thoroughly before making any sort of deal. 

Service & NCT history

Although it’s also a pro, this is a double-edged sword. NCTs are only an annual legal requirement when the car is over 4 years old. Buying brand new means you won’t have to worry about it for a few years, which can sometimes work out more cost-effective than purchasing used and having to spend money on repairs.

It can also be expensive when your vehicle fails a test – and this is more common than you may think. In the UK for example, as many as 34.5% of vehicles tested in a single year failed to pass.


Buying used doesn’t necessarily mean you can afford the vehicle outright, and finance companies are well aware of this. If you’re taking out a credit deal, it can sometimes work out more expensive on a used motor than it can do a brand new one, so again, weighing everything up and working out exactly how much you’d be spending is highly recommended. 

Weighing up the cost of car finance


Justin Kavanagh
Justin Kavanagh is a recognised leader in automotive intelligence and vehicle data supply to the entire motor industry. He has almost 20 years experience in building systems from the ground up. As the Managing Director of Vehicle Management System, he understands the need and importance of trustworthy and reliable vehicle history and advice to both the trade and the public.
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