This guide is filled with top tips and checklists we've created printable versions so you can bring them with you to minimise the chance of any nasty surprises. This is the first incarnation of this guide.
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How much a used car will cost you will ultimately depend on what car you get. Yet there are plenty of ways you can reduce the final bill. So picking a year-old model will dramatically slash the upfront cost. Brands that hold their value best tend to include Mercedes and Porsche - so you won't see too many year old luxury car bargains out there.
To save you time and energy trying to work this out, car experts have already done this research. But, follow these rules to home in on the cheapest cars:. Smaller engines can be cheaper. The choice of a 1. A large engine will usually burn more fuel than a smaller one. So engine size is a vital consideration if fuel economy is an important factor in your decision.
Of course, this depends on how you use the car. If a small engine is used a high speed, it'll need to work much harder to keep the car moving - burning more fuel.
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Petrol cars tend to be cheaper than diesel. Diesel engines are often more economical than their petrol counterparts. These cars are more expensive, and they usually cost more at the pump than petrol. Manual cars are cheaper than automatic. Switching between gears is extra work - particularly to those of us prone to stalling at traffic lights.
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Yet while automatics take some of the hassle out of driving, they come with a higher price tag. Yet many automatics are more fuel-efficient than their manual counterparts, as they 'know' the best gear to be in, so you could recoup the extra cost over time. Hybrid cars are cheap to run, but cost more to buy. Technology is improving everyday with modern hybrids coming in all shapes and sizes, from superminis to luxury SUVs.
Fuel-economy and cheap or even zero tax rates make part-electric models appealing, like the Toyota Prius. They also tend to hold their value for resale. Check CO2 emissions, as it affects the duty you pay. Buyers of the most polluting cars pay the most road tax. All the above's important, but if you want to nail the absolute cheapest cars to run, here they are though do note these are all smaller cars :. Once you've decided what car to pick, now you need to know how to get the best deal.
One way to slash costs is to buy at the right time. Dealers have targets to meet, with bonuses up for grabs. Typically, these are based on quarterly sales, making the end of March, June, September and December a good time to buy. They need to shift cars, so will be more willing to negotiate and offer attractive finance packages.
But, if you're buying from a private seller, there's unlikely to be a good or bad time.
Private sellers don't have targets to meet, other than the price they want to achieve. If you're buying this way, keep an eye on prices a few months before you actually buy - if they're heading down, you may want to wait. Heading up, and it's prudent to buy sooner. For a quiet time, try to avoid weekends, or the start of the month, just after payday.
This could be over Christmas, or deep into the summer holidays. Think about the style of car too.
Summer is when drivers dream of buying convertibles, making winter a good time to haggle for a deal on one. All dealers work to three-monthly sales targets Most of us try to hit target way before the end of the quarter, we did our best deals in Feb and early March and are now basically done for the quarter. Before you start browsing for the 'one', think about what you really NEED from a car. Ask yourself:. What are my essential requirements? Enough room for the family?
A cheap car to run? A sporty number? Think about what you need Do I need the car to do anything specific? This could include towing a trailer or fitting into a small space. Is it for short city drives or longer motorway journeys? Does it need to be able to cruise at motorway speeds without straining? What's better, petrol or diesel? The fuel you want to use can make a big difference in the model you might choose. Do I need a massive boot? Consider whether you need room for things such as sports equipment or a pushchair — or if you need to fit friendly Fido or your meddling mother-in-law.
Do I want to consider an eco-friendly car? If so, a hybrid or electric car could be an option.
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If you need to flog your current wheels, you've two options. You can either part-exchange the car at the dealership, where the dealer gives you a price and knocks it off the total cost of the car you're buying. Or you can sell privately — where you list the car and get cash from the person who buys it. We investigated how much more you'd get selling your car privately, and a search for the value of several models on Autotrader.
If you do decide to part-exchange, watch for dealers inflating the trade-in price of your old car — making it look like you're getting a good deal — but at the same time charging you more for the new model. You can check out every model online. What Car? There are two sorts of costs you need to budget for: upfront and ongoing.
Check you've thought about all of the following and budgeted for them:.
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Any upfront costs. Once you've decided to buy a car, you will of course have to pay for it. You can either pay the whole cost upfront or take out a finance deal. Whichever way you choose, expect to at least pay some kind of down payment before you drive off. Finance repayments.
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Car insurance. The cost of insurance is based on how much of a risk insurers perceive you to be. Eg, if you are a youngster who's just passed your test, you will pay more for your cover. Plus, taking breakdown cover will bump up the cost. You'll need to get your car serviced regularly, typically once a year, though it varies by model. Parking permits and tolls. Check your council website to see how much this costs. Consider any costs to park at work if you drive there too, as well as toll charges you may face along the way.
Other spending. The biggest complaint made about used cars is that they develop a fault soon after purchase.