Car Buying

Pro Tips on Buying a Used Car from a Dealership

Buying a used car from a dealership is something mots of us do at some point or another. In fact, 59.2% of all dealership purchases are used, which is a huge figure. It can actually all be overwhelming. The thrill and the buzz of getting a great car that’s exactly what you’re looking for can get the best of us, especially with a great salesman helping push too. Before you make the purchase, however, it’s always a good decision to get some advice, and as pre-purchase vehicle inspectors with so much experience under our belts, we have just the tips you need to help. See cheapest used car guide.

With just 5 tips, we can help your turn a bad decision into a good one and even a good one into a great one, all while avoiding some of the most common pitfalls in the industry. Let’s get into it.

Tip 1 – Know What Gives a Car Value

Before you go into the dealership to buy a used car, it’s always a very sensible thing to learn what actually gives a car value in the first place. There’s much more to it than just brands and ages after all. Understanding that is essential to getting your money’s worth. Buying a car privately.

The Car

The biggest price driver in a car is always the make and model behind it. Different cars have different perceived values, reputations, and even features in some cases. For that reason alone, it can be wise to take a look at some of the cars you already know or might be interested in for what you’re looking for beforehand. Do some homework. See how much profit used car dealer makes.


As well as which car you actually look for, another massive indicator of value in used cars at dealerships or anywhere else for that matter is with the mileage on the clock. Mileage tells you a huge amount about the car, although it’s still not everything. That’s where things like motorway miles come into play and service histories too, but we’ll get to that. In any case, more mileage usually means less value.


Another big price maker in the used car industry along with the make model and mileage is the age of the car, as we may well know. That’s why it can be such a good deal to get a used car in the first place rather than new but they always have their benefits. Work out what is going to be a liability more than a money saver and work around that. If you pay less for an older car, be prepared to spend more on upkeep etc. Just food for thought.


Another aspect of vehicle value when you’re buying from a used car dealership is that the condition of the vehicle needs to be accounted for. Dealerships will almost always make sure that their cars are in good shape to sell them to you and prevent backlash, but that’s only what’s on the surface. Always do a routine check yourself (like with our checklist) to take a look at potential problem areas. The MOT history can be a massive use here as well.


Lastly, think about the reliability of what you’re buying. Is it issue prone? Does the car have a bad reputation for issues? Is there a known fault, or any bad history behind it? If you’re not sure on any of these questions don’t be afraid to find out. These are what make a great value car a financial nightmare if things start to go wrong for you after you’ve bought it.

Tip 2 – Set a Budget

Once you are more comfortable with your understanding of vehicle values and what kind of things you need to be on the lookout for, it’s time to go to step two. This is where you need to be thinking in the areas of your financial needs instead of your vehicles and work out what is going to be the right choice for you personally. We need a budget to work with to make sure that we keep things realistic and sustainable.

Picking your Payment

After you decide what you can realistically spend, you need to be figuring out how best you’d like to do it. There are lots of different payment options for you out there after all, and they all have their own benefits depending on your current situation. You can get loans, pay in cash or even use car financing schemes to get a better car than you can afford and pay more in the long run. It all depends on your preference and finances.

Selling your Old Car

A real pro tip for buying a car from a used car dealership is that they’re a used car dealership. They buy cars as well as selling them. Part exchanging can be a good way for you to get some purchasing power and get more bang for your buck. You may get more money selling privately, but you may get a slight discount off your new car if you sell to a dealer. Remember that and add it into your budget.

Planning for the future

Throughout this whole process, you also need to make sure that you plan for the future when it comes to buying anything of value, especially something that has such a massive impact on your life. Really take the time to consider what you can afford right now and what that could look like in a year’s time too, and the year after that. Can you afford big brands and new models? What about issues with older cars? Think about the middle ground and workout both, or get a professional opinion.

Tip 3 – Pick contenders

Another useful thing for you to remember when it comes to buying from a dealership is that there is always more than one dealership out there that wants to take your money. You need to do your homework and shop around to find some serious contenders for what you’re looking for, and this in itself can have a few pointers to remember.

Identify Your Needs

A great example of what we just mentioned is by looking and making a note about what it is that you really need from your car. Are there some features that you specifically really want? Bluetooth? Heated seats? Service history? MPG? Pick the 3 most important to you and put them at the top of your list to help make sure you’re not getting something for the sake of it. Do remember though, you still need to be realistic.

2-5 options

The best way to make sure you have a good list of options when buying a used car from a dealership is actually to shortlist some of your favourites. Ideally, we would recommend that to be somewhere between 2 and 5 vehicles. This is the optimum number to make sure you’re not trapped in a corner, but you’re not spoiled for choice as well. You can really get to work on dissecting your car needs here within your price range.

Check everything

Before you do make a decision and you have worked on which of your finalists are going to make the cut, another great move is to get them checked out as well as taking a test drive to get a clearer picture for yourself and how they drive as well. Now that you know what it is that you actually want from your vehicle, you also need to make sure that you aren’t buying something with issues you don’t know about. A serious tip is to make a small expense by getting a vehicle inspection service to check for any issues that are lying beneath the surface that you couldn’t possibly know about. History checks are another great example of this.

Tip 4 – Getting the Best Deal

Lastly, once you have the green light on what it is that you want, it’s time to get interesting. You need to finalise a price with what you’re paying for. A lot of dealerships actually stopped accepting negotiation because of this, but it is an extremely effective tip none the less.

Bargaining chips

The best example of this is to always know your bargaining chips. Did something come back wrong in the inspection or when you took a look? Point it out. Make sure that you’re lowering the value of the car with the info that you have because, in reality, it’s you that is paying for it if not. It’s always better to have them incur the cost rather than you. They’ll be sure to point them out when it comes to selling yours. See our inspection packages.

Some great things to remember are:

  • Number of keys (£180 per key, 2 is a must)
  • Scratches and dents (£20 per scratch, more for dents)
  • Service history (decreases value)
  • Car History check (make sure you carry out car check yourself)
  • MOT left (make sure you have min 6month left or ask for new mot retest)
  • Fuel in the tank (Try to negotiate fuel in the tank for a definite sale)
  • Admin fees (Admin fees are accounted for in the price, you can argue this)
  • Tyre health min tyre tread left 4mm (If tyres are worn, you’ll need to replace them sooner)
  • Noises or issues (things can be wrong without being visible)

Keep Your Cool

Remember above all else that you have to keep your cool in these situations. You’re dealing with professional salespeople who are looking to make as much money as physically possible and thats ok if the vehicle is good. They are on a commission or profit scheme almost always and want to make a sale more than you want to buy a car, and they will almost always negotiate. Don’t get too excited, fall for sales tactics or be persuaded. Stick to your instincts and make sure you look after your own interests. This is their job there are no personal feelings involved for them.


Ultimately, that is it. Buying a used car from a dealership all comes down to you doing your homework and doing everything that you can to make sure you’re getting more for your money. It’s always worth inspecting the car before purchasing to avoid any nasty surprises, especially car inspector is not scared of dealers or salespeople.


1 – Understand Value

2 – Set a Budget

3 – Pick your contenders

4 – Carry out vehicle inspection

5 – Get the best price

If you need any more help on the matter or you’d just like to talk to someone who knows their stuff, get in touch with us today. We have services ranging from the tiny to the titan and vehicle inspection can always help you protect you and your money.

Happy driving.

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