Where to buy used cars?

New cars lose a large chunk of their value when they leave the forecourt for the first time. This makes the used car market the place to shop if you are looking for a solid financial investment. Not only do you lose less money through depreciation, but your budget will stretch a lot further to potentially newer and better specification models. But where is the best place to buy used cars? Here’s our advice on where to find that perfect used car:

Dealerships and Car Supermarkets

Your safest bet when looking for a used car is a dealership (franchised or independent), or a car supermarket, where your purchase is reasonably protected. You can find local dealerships that specialise in specific cars, whereas supermarkets will have every genre of vehicle imaginable. Both are traditionally able to offer part-exchange on your old car, finance options and warranties moving forward. A dealership is bound by retail laws so you are more secure than when buying privately. You can also often be guaranteed a competitive price as they work on a fast and high turnover of cars.

Private Buying Sites

Unlike buying from a dealer, you have little protection when buying a used car directly from a private seller. As long as their advertisement is accurate regarding the condition of the car in question, and the car is as seen, then you have very little recourse if something goes wrong shortly after purchase, and you are liable for any associated costs when fixing it. There is a huge array of ways to be connected to private sellers through various car listing sites available, but always make sure to see the car and have a test drive to ensure the car works as you expect.


Auctions give you access to a huge number of used vehicles in one place. Buying a car under the hammer does throw up its own issues though. Again, you are buying as seen with only a report and a brief look around to go on. You’ll be at the mercy of dealers, who often have pre-existing relationships with auctioneers, bidding for cars aggressively pushing up the price. Once the hammer falls you have to buy the vehicle then and there, and don’t forget those peaky auction fees and additional extras!

Car auctions can be exhilarating and terrifying in equal measure when you don’t quite know what to expect, so it’s worth going a couple of times before to acclimatise. Remember to stick to your budget and not get caught up in the bidding war.

There is huge value to be found in the used car market if you do your research and are prepared to haggle, so don’t ever be put off shopping second hand for your next motor.