RAC Cars News


5 Ways to Save Money When Browsing For a Used Car

By raccars Published

Browsing for a used car is very satisfying. All those potential shiny motors that could be yours! Many of us don’t even think about saving money further down the line: it’s all about searching out maximum value for minimum spend right now.

There are, however, plenty of ways you can search smart, and choose a used car that won’t just be a good buy now, but will prove to be a wise purchase further down the line, too.

Here are RAC Cars’ top five things to look for when browsing for a used car. All have the potential to save you money during daily use – and some will also make the car more appealing (and, therefore, worth more) when you come to sell it, too…

1. Look for stop-start

Engine stop-start is a feature of many brand new cars and is one that is increasingly being listed as a selling point of used cars, too. When you stop at a junction, it shuts down the engine to save fuel, automatically (and rapidly) starting it again when you press the clutch to move away.

The potential gains are huge, particularly if you drive a lot in town. Citroen did a survey back in 2011, showing that rush-hour drivers could spend a staggering 43% of their journeys at a standstill (with, if you have stop-start, the engine turned off). That was a rise of over 13% in five years: proof that, if you drive in peak periods, a car with stop-start WILL cut fuel use and save you money.

2. Be CO2-aware

Do you know what the CO2 emissions of the car you’re looking at are? You should find out before you commit: not only does it give a clear indication of the car’s fuel economy, it will also determine how much road tax you pay.

Lower is better and the key figure you need to dip beneath is 120g/km. Meet or dip below this, annual road tax is £30 a year. Above this, it jumps to £120. Over three years, that’s equivalent to paying £270 PLUS plenty more on top in fuel bills. Be CO2-savvy and avoid this!

3. Don’t default to diesel

Diesel cars cost more than their petrol equivalents on the used market: they have more engine technology that means they cost more when new, something that carries through to secondhand buyers. The fuel is also more expensive to buy at the pumps.

This price difference means that for some, automatically choosing a diesel won’t actually save them money because the price difference won’t be offset by the fuel savings. It’s a tricky calculation to judge but, as a rule of thumb, if you mainly drive short distances and rarely do long-distance high-speed runs, save the money and stick to petrol.

4. Check the insurance group

Seems obvious and many assume that they’ll have a fair idea what insurance group any new car is in – only to be surprised when they put a call into their broker. With today’s 50-group insurance system, the potential for variation is now huge.

The sheer amount of equipment on today’s cars, and the cost of fixing it – is why some model ranges have such widely-varying insurance group listings. Just because the base car is affordable shouldn’t mean you can assume the range-topper is. Be sure to check!

5. Look at the tyres

Another obvious used car buying trick but how many of us actually do it? You should: the difference between a good set of tyres and a so-so one is £500 off the price in the window, plus the potential risk to yourself, your family and your shiny new car.

Tyres are expensive; they wear; they’re exposed; with modern large-diameter alloy wheels, they’re a potential cost many don’t factor in until it’s too late. Be sure you’re not one of them by making all necessary checks beforehand…

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