What to look out for when buying a used car in order to get the best deal.

Snows provides you with this useful guide, so you can avoid the hassle and pitfalls when buying a second-hand car.

When you want to make the most of your money you are guaranteed to get a better value if you buy an approved used car, rather than a brand new model. Year old cars are much cheaper than a new car straight out of the showroom, this slashed the upfront cost giving you a great money saving. The price reduction rate actually slows down after 12 months by roughly half, so this short period is definitely the best time to grab a deal.

Snows understands that there are lots of factors to look out for and put into consideration when venturing into the used car market. That's why this guide aims to help you find your dream vehicle with no hassle and no worries.


1. What are your requirements?

First things first, what is it you are looking for in your new car? Do you want to improve to something sportier, younger, smaller, more efficient or maybe just generally a car that is cheaper to run than your current vehicle.

Depending on your own personal needs, some of these factors might make a difference to what type of car you want: Smaller engines, Petrol engines and Manual cars tend to be cheaper. Hybrid cars are cheaper to run but more expensive to buy. Smaller cars are cheaper to insure. The higher the CO2 emissions, the more road tax you will have to pay.

2. Work out your finances

It's definitely important to start thinking about your budget and making sure you stick to it. This means thinking about all the financial details like upfront costs, fuel, tax, insurance, MOT's, Servicing etc. It sounds obvious but the last thing you want is to be caught in a sticky situation later on.

It's always best to work out how much you can put down in deposit, and then calculate the monthly payments that you can afford. This will help you decide which car is suitable and affordable for you.

3. Research Used Car market prices

You always want to be sure that you are paying a reasonable amount for your new car. That's why getting a good idea about the used car market will help stop you paying over the odds. Don't rush into purchasing a car just because it 'looks' like a good deal, make sure to look around and research what else is on offer. Especially if you are looking at mainstream models, as you can guarantee there will be plenty of examples out there.

4. Check all paper work thoroughly

If you are buying from a trusted dealership they should provide you with all relevant and appropriate documents about the car. This includes the Service Records and the V5C logbook in particular, so no details are hidden and you can check the logbook registration for yourself. As Snows is a reputable company, we make sure to provide all information you need, whether visibly on the car itself or on our website; so nothing is hidden. We also provide all our dealership contact details, so if you have any other queries that you would like to address directly you can easily get in touch with our team.

5. Inspect the car carefully

Visiting the car and seeing it for yourself is key. This gives you the chance to appreciate the vehicle and make sure that it meets your expectations, giving you that peace of mind. When you visit the car, make sure to inspect it in good weather conditions and in daylight. This means no scuffs or dents can be hidden by poor lighting or heavy rain. Our Snows dealerships provide Approved Used Cars for customers to visit and test drive while also priding on quality customer service to make your car purchasing journey enjoyable and rewarding.

Don't be scared to test all the cars features to make sure everything is in order. Look over every panel if you want to and all the trim surfaces inside. Even simple details like seeing whether the electric windows function and that the air conditioning blows out properly. Make the most of having the vehicle you want to buy in front of you and in the flesh.

6. Take it on the road

Test driving your car is a great way to experience the performance, comfort, stability and safety of the vehicle for yourself. Rather than with a brand new model, a second-hand car has a past and could have been driven in a way that has caused certain parts to wear, tear and deteriorate.  

Make sure you're off to a good start when you first try and put the car into ignition. When driving, really feel the car. Check it handles correctly and performs as you expected. Listen out for the engine as a lot of noise can be a bad sign, and of course work the brakes to their full potential. You can fall in love with a car when you first take it for a spin, so a test drive is always a good way to know that it is definitely the one.

7. Is everything included in the price?

This is where you can be reassured that you are getting value for your money and that everything you intend to purchase is guaranteed to be included. This involves checking under the boot for the spare wheel and/or repair kit. Also look for an original jack and tools so that you know you will be prepared for worst case scenarios. These are things that could easily have been misplaced or not mentioned by the dealer, which may end up being crucial in the future when out in your vehicle.

Important things to make sure are included in your purchase is the vehicle handbook - this has everything you will need to know about the particular vehicle that you are purchasing and is a requirement to have on you. If you were promised spare keys, double check that they are included as well.

8. Finalising the deal

Once you are happy with all the things covered so far - the price is right, the car is perfect and comes with everything you expected. You're ready to make the deal and purchase your new car!

When the deal goes ahead make sure the terms agreed are in writing, with a receipt that is signed and a copy is kept by both parties. The paper work should show the vehicle price, the terms of sale and both the seller and buyers name and address. This makes the deal more valid, trustworthy and avoids any misunderstanding or complications that may come up later on.

9. Paying for the car

If you are buying a used car from a reputable dealer or company, such as Snows, there should be no problems when it comes to purchasing the vehicle. Be careful about taking large sums of money to pay for a car, especially if going to a meeting place outside a dealership. The most secure and efficient method of payment would be a bankers draft or money transfer.

Scams to look out for when buying a used car and their giveaway's​

Clocking: Misinterpreting a used cars mileage by tampering the odometer on the dashboard in order to increase the value.

Giveaways: If there is significant wear to the controls, pedals, indicators or steering wheel, worn out seats and chafed seat belts.... This all indicates that the car has experienced excessive mileage and it is most likely more than what is being displayed. Also large amounts of stone chippings at the front of the car is a hint that this vehicle has done some hefty miles in its time.

The simplest and most reliable way to check is by looking at the mileage history on the vehicle service records. If these documents are not accessible to you by the dealer then this is an immediate warning signal.

Cloning: Fitting a car with a copied number plate from an identical vehicle. This hides the fact that the car is stolen or is a way for criminals to rack up a load of parking tickets and speeding fines in another name.

Giveaways: Check the numbers match up! If the number plates on the vehicle do not match the number on the V5C Logbook, then there is a good chance that they have been cloned.

Same with the VIN/Chassis number on a vehicle. Nowadays you can usually find the VIN plate at the base of the windscreen, but on older cars the VIN plate can be inside the driver’s door jamb, or under the bonnet.

Cut and Shut: This refers to cars that are the result of welded together remains of accident damaged cars of the same model type. This is to create an 'original' and 'undamaged' car. If you end up purchasing a new vehicle that is actually the result of this illegal Cut and Shut practice, you end up with a very unsafe, unreliable and poor quality car that you were not promised or even intended to buy. The last thing you need is to find yourself caught up in a massive legal battle that wasn't your fault.

Giveaways: Uneven panel gaps, poor colour/ paint matching and over spraying on glass or non metals parts. These are all signs that your second hand car has had some suspicious work done and is something you want to stay away from.

If you have any queries or are interested in buying a reliable Approved Used Car, you can contact your nearest Snows dealership here and our team will get back to you as soon as possible.

Snows has 33 dealerships across the South of England, stretching from Plymouth to Guildford, and including the Isle of Wight. The Group prides itself on its reputation and dedication to delivering excellent customer service, and is rewarded by the fact that over half of its business comes from returning customers. With Snows, driving becomes an experience, rather than a chore.

Author: Sophie Taylor

Please contact Sophie Taylor using or 02380 707750 with all press enquiries.

Posted on 22/03/2017