When you want to replace your car, the simple pleasure of “changing” sometimes overshadows certain fundamental selection criteria. And the euphoria of the start may give way to disappointment after a few weeks of use. A car that doesn’t meet your needs, missing documents or expensive maintenance can quickly “spoil the party”. Here are 10 tips to make a successful used purchase.
1 – Define your budget
The question of the budget must be addressed before the purchase of a used vehicle to avoid any drift. A car consumes fuel (more or less depending on the model), requires sometimes expensive maintenance, and must be covered by insurance. All these criteria represent a budget that can be quite substantial if you easily give in to the temptation of the “car of your dreams”.
Reason must prevail and it is better to choose a vehicle that will not ruin your budget, especially if you are in a household and you already have children (or to come), otherwise you will have to sell it quickly.
2 – How to choose your model?
Choosing the right model is choosing the one that suits your needs, your budget, your family expenses… Buying a used car on a “whim” is not really the best solution, even if the temptation is sometimes strong. The “small rollers” will have more interest in turning to a petrol model rather than a diesel model because of the higher cost of purchase and maintenance.
A compact sedan may be a little short for a family with children, while a big SUV is not necessarily the best choice for a single person. In short, don’t “fall for” the first model you see, think about it, and define your budget, without forgetting to include operating costs. Choose reason to make the most of your purchase.
3 – Should I choose a private or professional seller?
The question is relevant because both solutions have advantages and disadvantages: the professional reviews his cars before selling them and generally offers a guarantee. But the desire to achieve certain objectives can sometimes encourage him to offer a vehicle that does not necessarily meet your needs.
Most of the time, individuals offer vehicles at a lower price, but there is no guarantee and scams are not excluded. The state of maintenance must be checked (maintenance booklet or invoices) imperatively. In terms of price, it is generally possible to negotiate with a private individual, especially for vehicles that are difficult to resell.
4 – What questions should I ask the seller when buying a used car?
The more questions you ask, the more you will know about the owner and the vehicle he offers, and a seller who avoids certain topics may have something to blame himself for. Ask as many questions as you can about the origin, maintenance, number of owners, replacement of certain parts such as the timing belt (large budget), or the reason for the sale. As much information as possible will help you decide whether or not to make your purchase.
5 – Is leasing a possible alternative?
Leasing is very popular in recent years and is gaining ground over traditional sales, allowing you to drive a new or recent car, while benefiting from lower monthly payments than traditional credit.
The LOA (lease with option to purchase) allows you to become the owner of your vehicle at the end of the contract, while the vehicle is returned in the event of a LLD (long-term lease). Leasing is a real alternative because it allows you to “buy” a car for which you wouldn’t necessarily have had the budget in case of a classic purchase.
6 – What documents must the seller provide me?
If you buy a used vehicle, certain mandatory documents must be given to you to validate the sale and constitute your application file for a new vehicle registration card:
- The crossed-out registration document (signed and dated the day of the sale);
- A copy of the transfer certificate;
- A roadworthiness test report less than six months old: for vehicles more than four years old;
- A non-pledge certificate, also called an administrative status certificate: downloadable free of charge.
Good to know: don’t forget the transfer code
As the registration formalities are now only carried out online, the seller is required to give you, within 15 days following the transaction, the transfer code which will allow you in turn to apply for your registration card online. Without this transfer code, you will be obliged to carry out this procedure (for a fee) through an organization accredited by the State.
7 – What are the points to check?
Before buying a used car, it must be inspected externally and a test drive must be carried out.
- On the outside
Visually inspect the bodywork, check the condition of the paint (colour differences), the assemblies (damaged vehicle), the condition of the windows and optics. Don’t forget to check the condition of the tyres and make sure they are identical on each axle.
- At the wheel
The general condition of the cabin will give a first impression. Inspect the condition of the saddlery (stains, tears), the wear of the steering wheel and pedals (high wear often indicates high mileage). Test the operation of the comfort elements (car radio, air conditioning, power windows, etc.) Good to know: take a look at the meter
Don’t forget to compare the mileage of the meter with the seller’s statements. Also compare it with the maintenance notebook and invoices.
8 – On which type of road should I test the vehicle?
It is essential to test a vehicle on all types of roads to test its reactions during acceleration, braking, as well as its behaviour at high speed. Listen to the engine, test the steering, shift gears and ask as many questions as possible in case of suspicious noise. If the seller refuses, simply do not buy the vehicle.
9 – Is it mandatory to pay a deposit?
There is no obligation for a buyer to pay a deposit for a used car. The question here is, if an advance is paid, whether it is a deposit or a deposit. The payment of a deposit binds the parties and constitutes a promise to sell without the possibility of withdrawal. When it comes to deposits, either party can withdraw. If it is the buyer who withdraws, he loses the deposit paid, but if it is the professional who withdraws, he is required to return them twice as much (art. L114-1 of the Consumer Code) Good to know: be careful with the mention!
In the absence of a specific mention, the sums paid in advance are considered as a deposit (Consumer Code). Generally, a professional will ask for a deposit of 10% of the total amount to be paid, which will be binding on the parties.
10 – When should I insure my car?
A car must be insured when you take possession of it. When it comes to sales between private individuals, it’s the moment when the registration is crossed out, before you leave with it. For a purchase from a professional, the car must be insured at the time of delivery. All land motor vehicles must be insured from the time they are driven on public roads. The fact of recovering a vehicle using a tray to drop it off on private property does not oblige the buyer to insure his vehicle.
Before changing your car, it is important to make sure that the vehicle you are looking for matches your needs. On the other hand, and in particular in the event of a purchase from a private individual, some checks are necessary. Checking the state of maintenance, administrative documents, but also a preliminary test must precede a possible purchase.
The key points to remember when buying a used car:
- A vehicle must correspond to the purpose for which it is intended (city, road, minivan, etc.).
- A preliminary test is essential before a purchase.
- It is also important to visually inspect a vehicle before purchasing it