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dealer insights

7 must-knows for buying a premium second-hand car, according to a dealer

Brian Downes of MSL Grange Motors explains what you should expect.

FINDING THE RIGHT car for your lifestyle and budget can be a tricky process. We want to help streamline the search. As part of our Dealer Insights series, every week we’ll take a different car-buying question to the experts at the heart of the motor industry.

One of the most important factors when choosing a secondhand car is deciding whether it’s worth spending a little more for a premium model, and how to ensure the most bang for your buck if you do. 

We asked Brian Downes, General Manager at MSL Grange Motors for his essential tips for anyone looking for a premium used car.

1. Check the after-sale services offered

Peace of mind is the first thing people should look for when buying a second-hand car. Unfortunately cars are mechanically built machines with moving parts so you need to make sure they cause you as little inconvenience as possible and that’s why it’s essential to check what they offer in their after-sale care. 

Warranty is very important to ensure the peace-of-mind to be able to go back if you have an issue. They can also help you make the most of the features after you’ve bought a car. We often get customers back in who don’t know how to connect their phone to Mercedes Me for example.

2. Choose the right car for your life stage

Finding the perfect car really depends where you are in your life. If you are a young, new driver looking to get something premium, I’d suggest a Mercedes A-Class, which is a small, trendy looking car.

If you are used to driving a mid-sized saloon and want something a bit more luxurious, I’d suggest a Mercedes C-Class which is a good-sized vehicle similar to a Toyota Avensis or a Volkswagen Passat.

3. Only buy from the UK if it’s through your local dealer

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I’m always concerned about people buying from private dealers in the UK who seem to have a new car every single week. My fear is that there will be issues with mileage discrepancies, crash damage and no history of who owns it. These types of cars haven’t been inspected properly so people don’t know what they’re buying.

Commercial dealers aren’t going to sell you something that causes them a problem, never mind their customers. We wouldn’t tend to sell cars that are more than four years old or had more than 120,000km. We want to know provenance of the car and what it was used for. For example, you don’t want to find out you’re buying a hire car with 20,000 kilometres, you don’t know how hard it was driven, by who, or whereabouts.

4. Consider the cost of maintenance

If you’re looking at something a bit older, you may have to consider the maintenance of the vehicle. Most premium vehicles have condition-based servicing, meaning that each year you might have a different service (one year would be oil, the next would be fuel filter) so the costs are spread out over the time you own it. 

High performance vehicles are more expensive to maintain and need close maintenance. But for example you can get an AMG model across the range. So it would be something that has the look of a AMG, but it will be a 2.0 or 3.0-litre engine as opposed to a 4.0 or 5.0-litre, which are quite costly to purchase new so there aren’t a huge amount in the used market.

5. Look up the breakdown cover (in detail)

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Individuals, and families in particular, need to know that if the car breaks down, one of them can ring and be helped out quickly. For example, we offer roadside assistance, courtesy drivers, loan vehicles and a Mobilo service that promises to have someone with you within two hours.

I hate the thought of someone being stuck on the side of the road and if it was my own wife I like knowing that she can get looked after quickly – that’s why buying premium is so important, getting things dealt with quickly comes as standard. 

6. If you’re a family, find a ‘one stop shop’

People who buy premium second-hand cars tend to be time-poor and cash-rich. For families especially it’s important that you just have a one-stop shop where you can sort everything from funding to servicing to cleaning to buying accessories, and to have a relationship after the sale that you know you can go back to.

A question we get asked a lot is how people can pay, so it’s important that your dealer offers a wide variety of financial options. You want to be able to get everything sorted and collect your car within two or three days.

7. Research before you go into the dealer

With a premium car you get a premium service. Along with things like leather interiors, heated seats, satellite navigation, you should also be able to expect things like excellent websites and video technology – we do personalised videos for our customers. 

The majority of people do all their research online so people know a lot about the vehicle they want to see. They’re not as much browsing but doing a focus visit, on average for an hour and a half so we try to make that as comfortable as possible for them.

More: 5 benefits of choosing a premium trim for your next car, according to an expert

More: 4 ways to choose between a new and a used car – that have nothing to do with budget>

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