STEP 1 - Setting your budget

Before you start to search for that perfect car, think about how much you realistically have to spend.

If you currently have a car you are wishing to sell, ensure you know the value of your car and then decide to sell it privately or part-exchange it with a dealer
If you need to take out finance for the new car, make sure you check different finance companies to get the best rates.
Remember, the total cost of your car is not just the asking price, you should also to factor in the price of fuel, maintenance and transfers.

STEP 2 - Choosing the right car

With the vast array of cars available now, choosing the right car for you can be a tricky process.

Make sure you really think about what you need from the car, for example think about:

What purpose will the car will be used for
How many passengers will be carried on a regular basis
How much will the car cost to fuel, insure, service and repair

STEP 3 - Contacting the seller

When speaking to the seller for the first time, make sure you ask them the right questions to gather as much useful information about the car before a viewing.

Ensure you ask questions about the cars past and its current condition
If you arrange a viewing with a private seller, arrange the viewing at their homes, and if the seller is a trade seller, arrange the viewing at their premises.
Do NOT arrange viewings after dark as it makes it much more difficult to see any damage or major scratches on the vehicle.

STEP 4 - Inspecting the car

You don't need to know a lot about cars to make a useful inspection of a used car, there are just a few golden rules you should follow.

Check the car's documents closely to spot if the cars odometer has been tampered with.
Look for rust, mismatched paint and uneven gaps between body panels. This could be a sign that the car has been involved in a traffic accident
Check all the car's electrical features to ensure that they all work

STEP 5 - Going for a test drive

The test drive gives you the opportunity to asses every aspect of the car, from how it feels on the road, to making sure all its equipment works correctly.

When taking a test drive make sure you select a route thats at least 15 minutes long and utilises different types of road
Try to start the car when the engine is cold, to check for excessive smoke and unusual noises
Check the gears, brakes, steering and suspension work as they should, with no unusual noises and vibrations

STEP 6 - Negotiate with the seller

It is normal practice for buyers to make a reduced offer on the car they would like to buy, so don't be afraid of trying to negotialte on the price.

Make sure you know what the car is worth, and stick to what you're willing to pay
Start with a lower bid and then let the seller try to bring the price up
Show the seller you are commitment to the deal, stay calm and don't be confrontational
If the seller won't sell the car for what you are willing to pay, don't worry there are plenty of other cars available.

STEP 7 - Setting your budget

It's important when buying a car that you approach it with your head and not your heart. Make sure you look for a car that meets your needs but doesn't leave you out of pocket. The best way to work out if you can afford a car is to think of its cost per month using the following points:

Divide the price of the car by the number of months you will be paying for it (if you're taking out a loan or finance)
The cost of insurance per month if required
The cost of your usual fuel usage per month
The cost of essential maintenance per month (such as servicing and replacement tyres)
The cost of repairs (if required) some vehicle parts are much more expensive for one manufacturer that another

If you're taking out car finance, make sure you do the following to get lower payments:

Look around at multiple finance providers – you could get more money and pay less for it
If buying from a dealer, negotiate with them to try and get a better deal on finance (and also try and negotiate more money off the car's asking price)

If you currently have a car to sell or part exchange, the value of your current car could also have a big affect on your budget. Make sure that you know the value of your current car before starting any negotiations, and remember you normally get more money for your car when selling privately than when part exchanging it with a dealer.

If once adding up all thes factors the car is more expensive than you can afford, try searching for the same model with a smaller engine or different trim specifications.

STEP 8 - Doing the paperwork

A car's paperwork is essential and provides information on the history and ownership of the car, so you should check it thoroughly.

Check all paperwork looks and feels genuine – photocopies and print outs could be fake
Ensure the address and recorded keeper's information tallies with the person selling the car
Make sure the buyer writes a receipt for you both

DISCLAIMER: This information is for advice and guidance purposes only. does not guarentee results.