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Buying a used car

There are around eight million used cars sold each year. This enormous breadth of choice is probably the single best argument for buying a used car.

Another big plus is that you avoid taking the financial hit of depreciation – around 20% of a new car’s value is wiped out as soon as it leaves the showroom. Few new cars are worth more than half their purchase price after three years, while many will have lost up to two-thirds of their value.

The introduction of ever-longer factory warranties has also added to the appeal of used cars – boosting peace of mind for those buying previously owned vehicles.

More than half of all used car sales are made by car dealers. The best used cars are often those found within manufacturers’ approved used schemes. You’ll pay more for them, but the customer experience isn’t that far removed from buying new.

Buying from a non-specialist but reputable dealer will remain more expensive than buying privately, but you can expect to get decent back-up should you experience problems.

Private purchases will give you better prices, while buying at auction will generally be the cheapest route to buying a used vehicle, but genuine bargains are rare and buyers have little comeback with sellers.

The biggest downside of buying used is uncertainty about a car’s history. “Clocking or tampering with the recorded mileage, is still an issue. Ideally, a car will have a complete service history: if not, you can buy some reassurance in the form of a history check.

If you are buying a used car in a private sale, there is no VAT to pay. If you are buying a used car from a dealer, then he or she will need to pay VAT on any profit made. This is known as the second-hand VAT margin scheme.