Car Buying

Buying a Banger: How to Get More Car for Your Money

Buying a car can come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, and when that happens to be trying to buy the best car possible for the lowest price you physically can do, then that might start to look like buying a banger. Cheap, cheerful and a decent runner sounds like a good combination after all as far as money saving goes.

The issue is that buying a banger has a seriously bad rap due to the nature of what it is, and that’s usually justified too. To make a car cheap enough to even be classed as a banger, there has to be some serious risk in the purchase. As a result, most people looking to buy one have had some sort of trouble or another, but avoiding it may actually be a lot easier than you think.

What We’re Classing as a Banger

For the purpose of this topic, it always helps to get clarity on what we’re looking for when we talk about buying a banger, and what it really means. A banger is nothing new after all, but we do need to clear a few things up.

First and foremost, a banger in the regard we are talking about is simply a cheap to buy vehicle. Typically, it is years old and far from it’s prime, resulting in it being at its lowest price ever and not being worth more than a few hundred to early thousands of pounds.

The second thing we’re talking about here, specifically, is buying a banger that is actually going to be a solid car and not just a cheap hunk of metal that is not going to make it through your first year of owning it. Doing that needs us to clear all this up.

Cost Considerations Involved

Buying a banger really needs you to consider what costing is going to be involved in your ideal sale. What is it that you’re looking to pay for, what do you expect from the car, and what do you need it to do in between. That comes in a lot of different shapes and sizes:

  • Upfront Costs
  • Running Costs (insurance, fuel, tax, ULEZs)
  • Risk of Problems
  • Part Costs/Availability

What You Should Look For With a Banger

Moving on to the more essential aspects of buying a banger, you really know what it is that you need to be on the lookout for when buying one. They aren’t like other cars after all. Buying a banger is focussed entirely on money maximising and nothing more. That means we have some unique points we need to look at, and there’s a clear priority too.

Age and Mileage

A big factor with any purchase comes from the age and the mileage of the car, and buying a banger isn’t any different. Age and mileage can be really big indicators of a car’s condition, but they are far from the be-all and end-all, and with buying a banger in particular, they do have a significantly smaller part to play depending on the other factors involved.

As always, getting an older car will mean you’re getting a cheaper car, or to the furthest extent possible. Once a car reaches 12-15 years old, prices won’t vary much. Mileage, however, isn’t as important. As long as the car is in working order, mileage is just a part of the package of what a banger is, and it doesn’t mean too much about what you’re buying unless there has been little to no upkeep involved, which we’ll get onto.

They can be risk factors, but they aren’t really much to do with the car itself when bangers are being looked into. Remember not too put too much thought into them.


Where things get dramatically more important with buying a banger however is the history of the vehicle. More importantly, we need the service and MOT history to monitor any work that has been done, and how common any problems were to begin with. Vehicle history check

With a car that has a fair number of years under its belt, for example, you’ll probably expect to see a few MOT fails, but it should really be just that. A few. A recurring fault that keeps coming back, a constantly long list of advisories or anything else that looks suspicious can be a huge sign of trouble ahead. A banger is only saving you money if you buy it and it lasts as long as you need it to after all, otherwise, we’re looking at a false economy.

Under Bonnet Condition

Another crucial part of buying a banger needs to be the condition of obvious parts when you’re looking under the bonnet. The last thing we need to see here is any rust, corrosion or degradation that could be particularly troublesome. Think about all of the big points that could cause you issues.

Things like cambelts are important, as well as the battery health, the condition of the oil (this can be a big indicator of poor care). Be just as particular with this as you would be with anything else. It’s hard to spot some things, but do the bare minimum if you can.

Structural Issues

Although the condition of the paintwork might not be the biggest consideration with bangers, buying a car that has structural damage can still be a big problem if anything were to worsen. That goes for both obvious structural issues like bumps and scrapes that could even result in a write off if they seem to be new or not present in the last MOT.

Other things as well as these, like suspension health, bumper health and even parts like doors and wheels, can be used for the same kind of analysis of what you’re going to be buying. There’s always a reason that these things are low cost after all, but you still don’t want to be getting yourself into a money pit.


The penultimate point to give really careful consideration to is with the noises that come from your vehicle as well as everything else we’ve already looked at. Although noises are certainly not on the list with some of the most common things that should be checked with buying a car, it still has a really big impact on your car if you can spot it early enough.

Really take the time to listen to the ignition labouring as you’re turning it on. The same goes for suspension squeaks, creaks and whines, and even the general sound of the engine while you’re driving. It all goes into what is actually going on under the surface, and sounds can be a good way to get a feel for problems.

Test Drive

Finally, buying any car needs you to have a test drive. That is the only way that you can truly get a feel for what you’re actually buying and give the car the opportunity to show you what it has to offer.

The best way to make sure you’re getting a complete test drive experience is to take the car where it will be being used. Try to run it both on general town roads as well as motorways as well. It all tells a different story and provides new opportunities for a problem to arise. This is exactly why we use road tests.

How an Inspection Can Help

There is never any doubt that a vehicle inspection is always going to be the safest way to buy a vehicle. It means you have a guaranteed and insured experienced professional that is able to expertly review a vehicle to find any faults that may be in play and stop you from committing to a vehicle that has them. That comes in a few different forms, like:

Verification of Seller Info

Making sure the seller is being honest and upfront about what they are selling is impossible to do on your own. A vehicle inspection checks things the hard way to thoroughly explore every detail of a vehicle to find out exactly what it has been involved with or any issues that could have happened, if not waiting to happen shortly after.

Thorough Road Test

An inspector is also licensed to give your car a road test. They can do all of the above while your car is actually in action as well. Having a professional driving the vehicle means that even a banger can be validated with any issues, even if they are already declared by the seller. That’s essential in getting a complete picture of your purchase.

Win-win costing

The result of all of the inspection services that are available to you means that you have a win-win situation. The whole purpose of buying a banger in the first place is that you are able to save money. If the car ends up bringing up nasty surprises, that is all wasted and defeats the whole object.

A car exam changes all oft hat. You are told there is an issue before you commit to anything, making sure you’re able to get a cheaper price and make the money back as well as the knowledge, or you can avoid the car altogether and prevent a seriously costly mistake if the banger was not whats it seemed or was on its last legs.

No matter what you do, always ensure that you are through with any vehicle, especially one that is a high risk like buying a banger. For more information on inspection services like CarExamer, contact us today.

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