How to buy a car: New vs Nearly New vs Used

Whether it’s your first car, or you’ve bought several cars, buying a car can be a nerve-wracking experience. I’ve been fortunate, as my Dad used to be a mechanic. Growing up, I was always interested in cars, and he taught me the basics. If I want to buy a car, I still take him with me. Failing that, I ask my Uncle-in-law along, as he’s also very knowledgeable about cars.

There are several things you should bear in mind when buying a car, whether it’s new, nearly new or used. Hopefully this will help you out!

Buying a new car

Buying a car new is something many people aspire to. You have a brand new shiny car with the number plate to show it, and you know its history. You don’t have to have an MOT for 3 years and you usually get a warranty. However, there are down sides to buying a car straight from the showroom.

One of the biggest issues, is that the vehicle depreciates in value as soon as you drive it away from the showroom! Some vehicles are worse than others for this. There is also the possible issue that the car may have faults, but of course, as it hasn’t been used, nobody is aware of them. In fact, some issues may not show until the car has done a few thousand miles.

New Cars

Buying a nearly new car

If you buy a nearly new car, you are likely to get it for cheaper if you purchase it from an auction. However, if you buy it from a dealership, you’re likely to get more support. You may still benefit from some of the warranty and you won’t need to MOT it until it is 3 years old.

Buying at auction you’re going to get a nearly new car for cheaper than a dealership. But from a dealership you’re likely to get more support. However, the car may have been traded in because it’s beginning to develop faults. However, it may be the case that if there were any faults, they have now been found and corrected.

Nearly New Car

Buying a used car

When you are buying a second-hand car, it’s always cheaper to buy privately than from a garage. Towns often have areas where people park cars they want to sell, usually on main roads. As well as looking in these areas for what is on offer, Gumtree, eBay and Auto Trader can be good places to look.

When buying a used car, you should always look for history, such as service history and old MOTs. You can check MOT history online on the Government’s website. You should check that the mileages from the MOTs/service history match what is on the clock in the vehicle. Also consider whether the amount of wear and tear in the car matches the mileage.

Underneath the car should be checked, in case of any leaks. If it’s dark or has been raining, this may not be obvious. As such, it’s better to view a car in daylight in dry weather. Rain, artificial light and the cover of darkness can also hide a multitude of sins when it comes to paintwork.

When you go to view a second-hand vehicle, you should also make sure it is run from a cold start. It’s a good idea to take it for a good run if possible, rather than just around the block. This will give you a better feel for how it drives and its condition.

Of course, there are important checks to be done underneath the bonnet too. You should check under the oil cap. If the oil looks milky, run! This could mean it has a problem with the head gasket, which is likely to put a large hole in your purse or wallet! You should also check the water reservoir for the same thing, because if water can get into the oil, oil can get into the water. Check that all the dials and switches in the car work.

Of course, you should always take someone who knows a lot about cars if you can. That’s why I always take my Dad and/or Uncle-in-law along if I am able to. I often feel like as a young woman, sellers think they might be able to, (quite literally), take me for a ride.

Check mileage on the vehicle's dashboard


It’s likely that you’re going to need parts for the vehicle at some point. Used cars in particular are more likely to breakdown or need parts. Therefore, it’s a good idea to do some research before you make a purchase. You should find out how much consumables are going to cost. Some manufacturer’s parts are more expensive than others. Pay particular attention to tyres and exhausts, as these are two of the things that most frequently need replacing. It’s also a good idea to pay a visit to your local motor-factor and see what they can tell you about the vehicle and what the most commonly purchased parts for it are.

It’s also a good idea to find out what common faults are on the car you’re considering purchasing, so that you can be prepared. A quick google should bring up forums where you can find this out. Finally, you should also find out how much the car will cost to service.

Tyres and exhausts


Whether the car is new, nearly new or used, you can haggle. You don’t have to pay the screen price! However, if you are paying the screen price, make sure you get something free, like a full tank of petrol or a service. 

You can haggle when buying a car

A handy guide

Please see the fantastic infographic below, which covers much of the above, as well as other useful things to consider! Go Girl designed this for new drivers, but I think everyone could benefit from looking at it before making a purchase.

Disclosure: This is a collaborative post with Go Girl Car Insurance for which I have received compensation. All views, thoughts and opinions are honest and my own.

3 thoughts on “How to buy a car: New vs Nearly New vs Used”

  1. This is a really good post with some very good advice. Always a good idea to take someone along with you, especially if they are in the trade.

  2. Awesome post! This is definitely some very helpful and informative advice. Buying used can certainly save lots of money since brand new cars depreciate 11% as soon as you drive them off the lot. Thanks for sharing!

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