Back to Used Car Buyer's guide

Where will buyers find the real deal?

HPI warn drivers that money isn’t everything when buying a used car

Many used car buyers are tempted to buy from the place they feel is giving them the best financial deal, but the initial saving may end up costing a whole lot more down the line. HPI, provider of the HPI Check® is warning buyers to do their research and understand fully the level of protection each option offers when it comes to deciding where to buy their next pride and joy. Buying from a dealer, an auction or privately all have their benefits, but it’s important to also consider the risks.

Buying Privately

Buying privately is often where some of the greatest bargains can be found, but in return, the buyer’s legal rights are more limited than when buying from the motor trade. Even though cars being sold privately are required to be advertised accurately, it’s important to look out for any vague statements which could be masking something sinister.

Unscrupulous private sellers will often arrange to take the car to the buyer’s home or meet in a neutral place such as car park or layby.  Buyers must not be fooled by this trick; always ask to meet at the seller’s home address and check that their address is detailed on the log book, proving that they are the vehicle’s registered keeper.     

Franchised and Independent Dealers

Franchised dealers tend to hold the newest stock with lower mileages and buyers can generally be confident that the vehicles will have been well looked after, but prices also tend to be highest here.  Dealers will also offer a warranty providing buyers with peace of mind should the vehicle develop a fault.   Independent dealers offer many of the same benefits of a franchised dealer but the cars tend to have a higher mileage, so are more affordable.  Both types of dealer will probably offer competitive finance deals and the option to part-exchange.

When buying through a dealer, whether franchised or independent, motorists will be covered by the Consumer Rights Act, meaning if they do find a fault within 30 days, the car can be returned for a full refund.


Auctions may offer some of the lowest prices but as with buying privately, without conducting the proper checks, it’s easy to get caught out.  Auction houses do offer plenty good cars but buyers should be aware that they often come with just a one hour warranty which only covers major parts.  Some auctions do offer extended warranty for an extra sum so this is something to consider.  It is also worth noting that the auctioneer will not be liable if the seller does not have the legal right to sell the car.

Car Supermarkets

Car Supermarkets buy stock in bulk and make a small profit on each vehicle, therefore they also offer some of the lowest prices. Their forecourt stock is generally part-exchanges, ex-demonstration and pre-registered cars, and whilst they usually focus on selling mainstream cars from well-known manufacturers, sometimes there will have something more specialised on offer. Buying from a Car Supermarket will be a great option for many buyers as they offer plenty of choice, but if a buyer has a specific vehicle specification in mind, they are likely to be hard pushed to find it in a Car Supermarket.

“Whilst there are several different options available to buyers when purchasing a new car, it’s important to weigh up the pros and cons.  Whilst experienced buyers may find a bargain at an auction house, those who aren’t as confident, may appreciate the security of buying from a dealership or car supermarket,” said Neil Hodson,deputy managing director of cap hpi.

“Regardless of where they are looking to buy from, the most important thing is that they take the necessary precautions against buying a car that is recorded as stolen with the police, has had its mileage reading adjusted, or has been written off by an insurer because it’s unsafe to drive.  By conducting a vehicle history check, such as the HPI Check, buyers will be able to immediately identify if the potential new car they are about to buy is hiding a dodgy past, including if it has outstanding finance owing against it.”

Drivers looking to buy a used car should check out the HPI Used Car Buyer’s Guide for the do’s and don’ts of buying a used car. The guide will walk buyers through each step to ensure drivers can buy confidently. Sections of guide include common scams to look out for, key checks that any driver can carry out, how to test drive, insurance advice and even what to do if it all goes wrong. For the full guide, buyers can head to