What to consider when buying a used car

What to consider when buying a used car

After housing costs, a car is probably one of the most expensive things that you will pay for. We look at the key costs involved in running a car and give some useful tips on how to try to keep those costs down.


  • Before buying a car you should check insurance costs in advance. You might find that they are so steep that all of a sudden that new car does not look as appealing.
  • It is also a good idea to calculate the cost of premiums so you can factor that amount into your purchasing equation.
  • Use price comparison sites when buying car insurance. This will help you to get the best deal possible – while still getting the level of insurance cover that you need.

Car (Road) Tax

Make sure you research the cost of car tax before you purchase your car. The amount of car tax you pay depends on either your engine size (older cars) or the emissions of your car (newer cars). The lower the engine size or emissions, the lower the car tax. Car tax can be paid for either six or 12 months. Although the yearly option costs more upfront, it is cheaper than buying two six-month options.


  • Consumption – Consider the fuel consumption of any car you are looking to buy. The bigger the engine, the more fuel it will use in general
  • Careful driving – Being a little more gentle in accelerating and not driving quite as fast can reduce the amount of fuel you use significantly
  • Heavy items – Do not leave heavy things in the car if you don’t need them to be there, and take off roof racks if you are not using them. The heavier the car, the more fuel it will use
  • Shopping around – supermarkets often have very competitive fuel prices, and you can sometimes build up reward points to spend on other shopping
  • Use this helpful link to find the lowest UK petrol prices in your area www.petrolprices.com
  • You can save a surprising amount of money by changing the way you drive. An AA test found that the average driver could go 10% further on a tank of fuel by changing a few habits, and the best drivers could go 33% further.

Servicing and Maintenance

The RAC says that it costs around £472 to maintain a used car over the course of a year. This includes MOT, any servicing and repairs required. For a monthly fee, a used car warranty will cover certain repairs on your car, and may even include a service and MOT once a year. If you decide to take out a warranty, make sure you are clear on what it covers and what it doesn’t.

Breakdown Cover

The chances are that most drivers have experienced at least one breakdown. Breakdown cover ranges from simply having an engineer take a look at your car at the roadside, to having the car picked up anywhere in Europe with a courtesy car to continue you on your journey.

Naturally, the higher the level of cover, the more it costs. Make sure you check what’s included in each level of cover and choose the one that best meets your motoring requirements. Breakdown cover is not mandatory but can come in useful if you do a lot of travelling in your car.


One of the biggest costs when owning a car is the loss of value of the car over time. Brand new cars lose their value faster than used cars as they are more expensive to begin with. When you buy a car, think about what it might be worth in a few years’ time. You might be able to see the price of older cars the same make as yours on a car sales website.