How to Choose the Right Used Car for Your Needs and Budget

Buying a used car can be an exciting yet challenging task. In the UK, the market for pre-owned vehicles offers a wide range of options, allowing buyers to find the right vehicle that suits their needs and budget. However, navigating the process requires careful consideration to ensure a successful purchase. Indeed, choosing the right used vehicle is of the utmost importance as it can have a significant impact on your finances as well as your overall stress level in the long run. To approach this subject, let’s take a careful and deliberate approach to finding your next vehicle.

Assessing Your Needs

Your first step in this process is to assess your needs in terms of lifestyle, safety, maintenance costs, and personal preference. Do you want a compact car for commuting, or do you need a larger family vehicle? Do you need a truck or a car? Do you want luxury, sportiness, or economy? Do you prefer a petrol fueled or electric model? Set your emotions aside and think about what you need more than what you want by making a list of your priorities.

Setting Your Budget

Your next assignment is to set up a budget. You can get into a lot of trouble if you get in over your head by purchasing a vehicle you really can’t afford. Be honest with yourself and decide how much you can realistically pay for the down payment and the monthly payments. Don’t forget to consider the cost of fuel, maintenance, and insurance. If you plan to finance your new vehicle, it’s not difficult if you have a good credit history, but don’t wait until you get to the dealership to check financing terms. While a dealer can sometimes offer special financing rates, you should check with your own sources to see what they can offer.

Researching Your Options

Once you’ve established a budget, it’s time to do your homework. A good way to start is to check with publications that provide reviews on different vehicles. These companies review sales and performance records of many different makes and models and will even rate some as “best buys”. Shop online and in person, and once you’ve decided on a few makes and models, check newspapers, commercials, and online sites to see what those vehicles are selling for. Compare offers from dealers as well as from individuals.

Besides researching the vehicles, research the sellers. Take a look at online reviews, testimonials, and find out if any complaints have been filed against the sellers. If there have been complaints, as is more frequent than you might imagine, find out what the seller has done to resolve the complaint. That will give you and indication as to the reputation and character of the seller.

Making the Purchase

You’ve established your budget, you’ve done all of your research, and you’ve found the vehicle you want. Before you make a deal, be sure to test drive the vehicles that you’re interested in. The test drive should be done solo if at all possible. Make sure that all of the interior accessories are in working order, adjust the seat and mirrors, and then drive on the roads that you usually drive on. You can turn on the radio just to make sure it works, but don’t have it on while you’re driving, as it might drown out a noise that you need to hear. Be aware of everything-vibrations, noises, interior stains, or bad paint. Ask for the vehicle’s history to review maintenance records, accidents, repairs, etc. If possible, have an independent mechanic conduct a thorough inspection of the vehicle you’ve settled on. If that uncovers any problems, you may still want the car, but that will be a tool for you to negotiate the price downward.


Negotiating with the seller or dealership is a critical aspect, as it can potentially help you to secure a better deal. If you’ve done your research, you should know the price range of the vehicle you want. Having knowledge of the vehicle’s condition, its history, and market value can give you an advantage when negotiating. Ask if any parts of the car are still under warranty, or if the dealer provides their own warranties. If any part of the deal isn’t to your liking, ask for better terms, or walk away.

Financing the Purchase

Once you and the seller have reached a deal, it’s time to set up your financing. If you have a good credit history, stable income, and if you’re purchasing a vehicle that fits your budget, you should have no problem securing financing with attractive terms. Compare the terms you can get from the dealer with the terms you’ve found from other sources.

Final Thoughts

While all of this may sound like a lot of work, the end result of your diligence in finding the right car will pay off for years to come. Carefully consider all of your options, take your time, and you’ll make the right decision.

If you’re in the market, you should be able to find a low mileage, reliable, and affordable vehicle at Used Car Sales Direct. We have been one of the most trusted used car dealers in this area for years, and we have a vast wealth of experience offering quality vehicles. We constantly update our inventory, so you’ll have a wide selection to choose from. Each of our low mileage used vehicles has gone through a multi-point analysis performed by one of our highly trained technicians. They meticulously check the vehicle inside and out, under the bonnet, and on the road to make sure that the vehicle you purchase here is in tip top shape. Whether you’re in the market for one of our vehicles, need service or repairs to your vehicle, or need to get an MOT inspection, we are the place to go.

Get in Touch

If you’d like to learn more about our used car inventory, visit our website or give us a call at either of our locations. In Exeter, call 01392 717888, and in Wellington call 01823 0795 437. Better yet, stop by and see us! We look forward to serving you!