Buying a second-hand car is notoriously difficult. Unlike something fresh off the production line, a used car can be beset with mechanical faults, wear and tear, and other issues that could damage your finances down the line.

To help you avoid a potential money pit of a car, here are some suggestions we think you will find useful.

#1: Try to steer clear of private sellers

We aren't saying private sellers are dishonest, but unlike recognised car dealerships, they don't have a business reputation to consider when selling you their car. They don't have to give you a warranty either, and they might neglect to get the car serviced before the sale. So, with this in mind, do consider a dealership. However, if you do decide to buy from a private seller - you might see a car in the classifieds that you just have to own - do take a mechanic with you. They will give the car the once-over and will advise you on the purchase.

#2: Visit a reputable dealership

Despite our suggestion above, there are some less-than-reputable dealers operating today. However, you can cut through the oily grime of the worst of the worst by looking for signs of an effective car dealership. If they have a positive online presence, with a website and good ratings on business review sites, and if the cars in their care appear well looked after, you might have little to worry about. Check the previous link for other things to look out for. 

#3: Don't go for the cheapest option

Cars will generally be cheap for a reason. Despite how things appear on the surface, there could be hidden faults when you get under the bonnet. It might be that the seller is keen to get rid of the car as soon as possible, perhaps because of the faults we suggested, or because the car has been procured dishonestly. 

Of course, you can take steps to check the car. As we suggested, bring a mechanic with you. Ask for a vehicle history report too, as this will let you know about any accidents that have taken place, and detail any outstanding finance that could take you by surprise. However, do shop around for the best car you can afford, save as much money as you can, and consider the financing options from companies such as Really Easy Car Credit to improve your spending power. You might then have the finances to afford something better than the dirt-cheap offerings you might otherwise have considered. 

#4: Don't skip the test drive

If you really want to know how a car handles, you have to take the car for a test drive. If the seller refuses you this option, walk away, as they probably have something to hide. And when on your test drive, bring somebody with you if you're not car-savvy. Assuming the other person knows what to look for on the test drive, they will be able to advise you on the viability of the car. Check the previous link for some good advice, whether you test drive the car alone or not. 

We hope these tips were useful, but research other ideas on how to avoid a money pit when you're next looking for a car. 

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