So, you've decided to buy a 2nd hand car. What’s next? Before you set out to buy the car that suits your needs, and is well within your budget, there are some things that you must do to ensure that you are not being ripped off.

STEP 1 – The Need.

Firstly, you must figure out your need. A few questions that you need to ask yourself are - “Do I need a big car or a small car?”, “Am I going to be on the highway or just driving on in the crazy city traffic?”, “Is this going to be a temporary buy or something that I will stick to at least for a couple of years?” The answers to these questions will help you form a blurred image of what kind of car you might be looking for. If you say I want a big car, an image of a sedan, MUV or an SUV pops up. If you want a small car, you already start thinking on the lines of Hatchbacks. If you want something that will last long, you imagine a nice shiny car (by any chance, are you imagining a red sedan? If not, my bad) that is already sitting handsomely on your drive way. Let’s snap back to reality (no, no Eminem coincidence here).

STEP 2 – My Budget.

Deciding your budget is the most crucial, and is always going to be the deal breaker. When you decide on a budget, the most important thing is to stick to it. Most dealers will ask you to up your budget marginally to get a better vehicle. Ignore them, and stick to what you have in mind, no matter what.

Be practical while deciding the budget of your future car. For example, it’s only logical to think that if you have a smaller budget, buying a sedan, MUV or SUV in mint condition might be a little difficult, and a hatchback is a better choice.

STEP 3 – Getting Started.

The Classifieds section in the newspaper is where you should begin your search. Advertisers usually provide their contact number. So make a list of all the advertisers that you find suitable and start calling them one by one. If you’re lucky, you may find the car of your dreams soon enough. However, beware of misleading advertisements that publish false information. Don’t worry; we’ll get to that later.

Another excellent way of searching for second hand cars is over the internet. Personally, I prefer this method because you can have a look at the actual pictures or videos of the vehicle being advertised before contacting the advertiser. Web portals that are available in India and extremely user friendly are and You can apply various filters to your search, for e.g., date of manufacture, make, location (city based) or the budget that you might be interested in. For the United States of America, you have where you can search for vehicles that are certified pre-owned, used or new. In United Kingdom, you have providing search options like, new, nearly new and used.

STEP 4 – The Real Deal.

Usually, certified pre-owned cars are quite trustworthy. However, there is nothing wrong in having the car thoroughly checked up by a mechanic. You are going to put in a lot of dough, so don’t feel ashamed of bringing along a mechanic who can inspect the car for you. They deal with cars day in and day out and thus have complete knowledge about them. They can figure out if the car has ever witnessed any accident, or if any of the parts have been tampered with or replaced unnecessarily. It may cost you a few bucks to get the car inspected by a trustworthy mechanic, but in the long run, it will do you a world of good. After having checked the car, make sure all the paperwork is in place. The car might be great but if the paperwork is not in order, it’s a no deal.
For different countries, different kind of paperwork is required. You can find more information in the following links –

For USA, click here.
For UK, click here.

Whenever you get stuck, go back to step 2 and start again. Buying the perfect car that suits your needs on a budget can be difficult, but follow all the steps above and your buying experience will be a whole lot smoother; I’m sure you’ll be reaping the rewards of putting in all the research while buying that perfect car. Good luck and drive safely!

All images are the properties of their respective owners. Images have been used only for illustrative purposes and I do not claim ownership of the content of the images.


  1. Great post! Thanks for sharing. I'm in need of a new car! These tips will help.