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Second hand cars sale - now more options than ever before!

Second hand cars sale are still a thriving business even though the scrappage schemes have never been more attractive.

Websites like Autoweb, Fish4cars and Carcraft offer a very comprehensive search system whereby you simply input the make and model of the car you're interested in and they display all available matching vehicles along with relevant information such as price, mileage, amount of previous owners and details of the dealership.

These sites are free for prospective purchasers to use.

Another option is publications such as Auto Trader or the Buy and Sell. These advertise both private and commercial sales. Reading through the sections that advertise the car you're interested in should give you an idea of how much you can expect to pay.

The prices vary according to mileage, modifications and it's a general rule of thumb that garages are more expensive than private sales but garages generally offer some form of warranty, unless the car is marked "trade only" or "sold as seen" and in that case, the garage is not under any obligation once the purchase is completed.

The nature of the used car industry means that there are many vehicles with defects being sold on so it is always advisable to bring a mechanic with you to look for the obvious signs of engine/ gearbox trouble.

Even if a car has recently passed the NCT, which means the value of the car increases, that does not rule out the possibility of major engine issues being concealed. An NCT is a basic test of roadworthiness and not a comprehensive engine health check.

Many SIMI mechanics offer a pre purchase check on used vehicles. This means that they drive out to where the car is and look over it. They'll write a report detailing even the smallest flaws and this will let you make an informed decision on whether to complete the purchase. You can expect to pay from around £90 to £150 for this service depending on how far the mechanic has to travel and on his own rates.

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