Five smart ways to buy a used car in London

Buying a new or used car in in London is hugely popular: figures show there are 2.6 million registered cars in the capital, with 54 per cent of London households owning at least one car.

Buying a brand-new car often doesn’t make much financial sense when you consider that it loses value as soon as you drive it away from the dealership. So the second-hand car market is a natural starting point for many Londoners looking to buy a vehicle. But buying a used car in London isn’t always easy. With an overwhelming array of options, concerns about vehicle quality and value for money are on many buyers’ minds. Here, we look at five ways to buy used cars in London. Do your research properly and you can drive away with a great deal.

1. Buy an ex-rental car

Forget concerns about multiple drivers on rental cars. They are notorious for having a thorough maintenance history. You can expect the cars to have undergone frequent services, oil changes and other maintenance as part of the company’s strict maintenance of its fleet. You’re also buying from a trusted brand name, and the used cars on sale are often nearly new, as rental firms like to keep their fleets young. Additionally, some rental companies are now offering attractive buying options. Find used cars for sale on Hertz Rent2Buy, where you can test drive your used car for up to five days. If you like it, you can buy it, but if you change your mind, you simply pay for the days you hired it.  You also have plenty of choice when it comes to where you buy your used car. Hertz has three London locations which sell used cars, including Marble Arch, so if you work in central London, it’s ideal for viewing and test driving in your lunch break or commute home.

2. EBay Motors

EBay Motors certainly gives you a wide variety of used cars to choose from, and comparing prices to other similar listings can help you quickly get an idea of the price you should be looking to pay for your used car. The helpful ‘My Garage’ section lists sales of parts and accessories compatible to your used car, which is useful if you’re looking to make additional purchases. It’s worth browsing with caution; even though it may sound obvious, visit the used car in person to ensure you’re happy with its condition. In addition, don’t fall for a seller telling you that the purchase is covered by the eBay Vehicle Purchase Protection (VPP); this only applies to transactions in the US and Canada on

3. Autotrader

A well-known option for good reason, this site lists a huge number of used cars in the London area. Make sure you do your homework thoroughly though, as buying from a private seller comes with more risks. Check the V5C vehicle registration document and the registration number on the GOV.UK website. This will tell you the used car’s MOT status and history from 2005. Keep a copy of the used car’s description too – as a private buyer, you’re protected under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 if the used car doesn’t match the seller’s description. This can be hard to prove though, so if the seller gives additional description details on the phone, ask for these in an email too.

4. Used car dealerships

Both franchised dealers and independents have their pros and cons. You’ll be able to get a reliable used car with a good warranty from a franchised dealer, though this will come at a higher cost. Independent dealers will naturally have a wider variety of used cars at more competitive prices, but the quality can vary too. Check the warranty of any used car you look to buy at an independent dealer too, as these can be limited.

5. Car auctions

Not an option for the fainthearted! Auctions are certainly an exhilarating place to buy a used car, but aim to go to one first (without intending to buy) to get a feel for how it works. It’s also critical you set yourself a budget and stick to it. It’s all too easy to get caught up in the heat of the moment and spend more than you had planned. Ensure you check the used cars carefully before the auction begins, as auction rules state that they’re bought ‘as seen’.


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