From timing belts to paint colours: Nine tips for buying a used car

FILED - A bargain! That's what many people want when it comes to buying a used car. But there are a few things you should keep in mind if you want to avoid a disappointment. Photo: Andrea Warnecke/dpa
FILED – A bargain! That’s what many people want when it comes to buying a used car. But there are a few things you should keep in mind if you want to avoid a disappointment. Photo: Andrea Warnecke/dpa

(dpa) – Anyone seeking to buy a used car wants to get the best value for their money and to avoid any pitfalls. Here are nine things you need to remember when looking for the right bargain.

1 – Read up: Learn all you can about the model of car you want to buy. “This is the only way to judge how reasonable a price is, what engine variants there are, what is part of the basic equipment, what weak points there may be and, above all, what the car once cost,” says Bernd Meyer from a German automotive industry association.

2 – Don’t go alone: Buying a car is usually a thrilling experience and sometimes that excitement can lead you into making the wrong decision. “After the frenzy comes the regret,” says Ansgar Klein from an association of independent car dealers in Germany.

That’s why he says it helps to bring a neutral companion with you when you go to look at a car. Their job is to keep an eye on the facts and keeps emotions in check.

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3 – Pay attention to extras: These can have a significant impact on the price.

“Above all, driver assistance systems and connectivity extras such as live navigation or smartphone connection via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are now very popular and are increasing sales prices,” says Martin Weiss, head of a vehicle valuation organisation in Germany.

4 – Have a look at the maintenance records: These are an important indicator of how well or badly a car has been cared for.

5 – Pay attention to the construction year and mileage: Cars cover an average of 15 to 20,000 kilometres per year, according to Meyer. “So a ten-year-old car with only 60,000 kilometres is unusual and could be a bargain, if the rest of it goes well.”

6 – Don’t buy a car needing major repairs: The mileage also determines what regular maintenance work needs to be carried out. One particularly pricey job is replacing the engine’s timing belt.

7 – The car’s colour can save you money: The majority of cars are offered in the standard colours of white, black, grey, and silver. Unusual colours can therefore reduce the price.

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“Red, green or yellow are colours that are more accepted in sporty vehicles than in SUVs or station wagons and such vehicles are then cheaper,” says Weiss.

8 – Check the odometer reading and the previous owner: If the odometer reading does not match the car’s history and its overall appearance, the alarm bells should ring.

The number of owners and how long they owned the car is also significant. “Especially if there are owners in the logbook who only owned the car for a short time, you should be careful,” says Klein.

9 – Ask about previous damage: The seller should report previous repairs due to an accident, for example. However, if professional repairs have been made, you can’t always assume the value has decreased, Weiss says.

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