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6 essential tips for buying a used car that won't let you down

Renault’s Brian Quinlan shares how to spot a car that will last the test of time.

Image: Shutterstock/TZIDO SUN

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

This week, we asked Brian Quinlan, Development Manager for Renault Ireland (who oversaw the introduction of Renault’s approved used car programme in Ireland) for his insight on buying a quality used car. Here he shares some insider tips to pick the perfect one.

1. Ask about the car’s history

It’s so important that you ask about the history of the car that you are viewing. Always request a history check report which will verify mileage, accident history, number of owners and even things like finance outstanding.

If a dealer can’t or won’t provide the history check then this is suspicious but I would 100% recommend that a customer would invest in this online history check prior to purchase.

2. Compare it to the pictures in the ad

shutterstock_747542443 Source: Shutterstock/MUNGKHOOD STUDIO

You should always ask yourself, ‘does the presentation of the car match what you saw online?’. Keep in mind the clever technology that is now available and can make pictures of an average car look very attractive with some doctoring so take your time and have a good look at the car.

Reputable dealers take pride in the presentation of their used cars both online and on site so they will have no issue giving customers the time to have that good look. If a dealer is rushing you away from the car this could be another tell-tale suspicious sign.

3. Check that it’s been prepared properly

Professional dealers prepare their cars thoroughly before they are presented for sale. Tyres are replaced as required, full mechanical service is completed and any bodywork imperfections are fixed. A proud dealer will be delighted to share these details with you on request.

In professional dealers this high level of preparation is a prerequisite to the customer receiving a very comprehensive warranty when they purchase. You should expect to get minimum 12 months from a professional dealer.

4. Be mindful of exceptionally low prices

shutterstock_666705001 Source: Shutterstock/Artem Postoev

Price is definitely an important buying consideration but always remember if it seems too good to be true, it generally is. In an online context, a customer should be able to have an average ‘expect to pay’ price before they go shopping.

However it is worth paying that little bit more for a car with genuine history that is exceptionally presented and prepared to a very high standard.

5. Look into your manufacturer’s used car programmes

Most manufacturers are starting to launch used car programmes to help both dealers and customers. Renault’s launched a year ago and it now has 21 dealers and around 1,700 cars with a huge focus on warranty.

When customers buy from a used car programme, they should look for things like warranty, roadside assistance, certified history check and finance options. Renault offers all these things, along with ‘buy today, drive today’ meaning all cars are ready for sale.

 6. Try to get a set price

shutterstock_231526426 Source: Shutterstock/pathdoc

Some dealers out there will just wash a used car and then put it up for sale straight away with POA (price on application). Once you they agree a price from the customer then they’ll fix the car up. So if you’re a tough negotiator, you’ll get a low price but maybe you agree with the dealer that a scratch won’t be fixed or other things won’t be updated.

With a set price, you know that you’re getting a car in great condition. We actually advise dealers not to put any car up for sale until it’s ready, usually aiming for a five-day turnaround from the car arriving into the dealership to being put up for sale.

Read more: How much engine power do you really need? We asked a motor expert

Here’s how to decide between a petrol and diesel engine, according to an expert

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