If you decide to go for a used car for your business then the potential for picking up a bargain is obviously a lot greater but then so is the potential for getting it wrong. This is mainly due to the wealth of outlets from which to make your purchase, each with their own advantages and disadvantages listed below. Franchised dealer

  • Pros – There will be a wide choice of vehicles, all of which will come with full after sales support, will have been through background checks and be in very good condition.
  • Cons – All this extra service is going to cost and franchised dealers – like Ford Direct or Vauxhall’s Network Q – are going to be the most expensive used car option.

Car supermarkets

  • Pros – You’ll get a huge choice including plenty of ex-fleet mainstream cars and will be able to compare makes and models easily. There will be good discounts on the most popular vehicles
  • Cons – No guarantee of a good service and very little room for negotiation. Car supermarkets also tend to offer poor part exchange deals if any.

Independent dealer

  • Pros – You’ll pay less than a franchised dealer or a car supermarket but will still have legal recourse should problems with your vehicle arise
  • Cons – Independent dealers vary greatly and though there are a lot of very respectable operations, there are also a number of sharks, so purchasing from one can be quite hit or miss. Fortunately Trading Standards have sought to improve things and buying from an independent dealer is less risky than it once was.

Car brokers

  • Pros – Will take away a lot of the legwork by doing the searching for you and can help find some very good savings
  • Cons – Again there are some dodgy dealers, so beware any broker that asks for a big deposit up front.

Internet

  • Pros – A stress free way of looking for a used car with some sites such as Auto Trader and Exchange & Mart offering facilities which allow you to surf for cars by make, model, price and age. These days many franchised dealers and manufacturers also have websites.
  • Cons – With such a big investment would you want to purchase a car you before had actually seen it in the flesh or taken it for a test drive?

Auctions

  • Pros – Buying from an auction is a great way of picking up a bargain and they are attracting more and more private buyers for that reason.
  • Cons – It can be an intimidating environment for the uninitiated and its unlikely you will be able to check and drive the car you’re interested in before you’ve actually bought it.

Private Seller
Of course one way of the most popular ways of buying a used car is from a private seller. Whether through trade papers such as Exchange & Mart, to local classifieds, or even ads in newsagent’s windows, finding a used vehicle this way is pretty straightforward. And you could bag yourself a real bargain.

However the downside of purchasing from a private seller is it is a lot harder to determine the background of the car, or the reputation of the seller. You can, however, get some idea from the advert, for example by law those place by dealers should carry either a ‘T’ or ‘Trade’ tag and watch out for ads which ask you only to call between 5 and 6pm, because they could mean a phone box is being used. Be wary too of those which just carry mobile phone numbers as they’re harder to trace. When you speak to the seller on the phone there are also a few clues you can pick up on. If you ring the seller up and ask if the car is still for sale, and he or she replies ‘which one?’ this is also a dead giveaway that it’s a dealer trying to pass themselves off as a private seller, and if they seem to struggle when asked about the car’s specifications, this could also be a point to things not being above board.

If the seller passes this test and the car sounds suitable arrange to visit them. When viewing a car it is recommended you take someone with you and don’t allow the seller to bring the vehicle to you or offer to meet you in a completely separate location.