Step 1 – Choose the vehicle model that’s right for you
Start by drawing up a list of models that interest you according to your needs, your desires, your budget… The Internet is full of information, as is the specialized press, but your entourage remains the best source of information. Do not hesitate to take opinions!
To get an idea of the second-hand value of the car models you are interested in, you can use the La Centrale ® Rating . Easy to use and free, this rating tool gives you an estimate in real time after entering your criteria. This immediacy allows you to get a general idea without spending too much time on it. The widely used Cote Argus (paid), or Auto Plus, Autovista or Autobiz (free) also offer this type of service.
The methodologies being different according to the sites (some reflect the second-hand market while others apply depreciation calculations), it may be interesting to carry out several ratings at an advanced stage of the project , to consolidate or build up a negotiation pitch.
Step 2 – Find THE car you need on the internet
Do you have a precise idea of the model (s) (ideally 2 or 3 maximum) that you wish to acquire? You can then start your search. The LeBonCoin free classifieds site has a rich offer. For a more detailed search, choose La Centrale, L’Argus or Caradisiac for example, which offer more criteria of choice in terms of options, finish, type of fuel/energy (petrol, diesel, automatic) , number of fiscal horsepower (cv) or horsepower (hp) but also type of vehicle (sedan, minivan, convertible, station wagon, city car, sports car, etc.).
Do you want a “first hand” , that is to say a car that belonged to a single owner? Why not go through a pro? Think then of the sites for the sale of collaborating vehicles. In France, brands like Renault or Peugeot have their official platform. You will find very recent vehicles, with low mileage, sold up to -35% of their new price.
Step 3 – Ask the seller of the vehicle
That’s it: you’ve found the used car that meets all your criteria, not too far from home. Maybe you even have one or two alternatives, so you can compare. It is now necessary to call the seller without delay to ask him a few questions .
Date of entry into service, mileage, possible defects, but also ownership history, use made of the vehicle, the reasons for selling it… It is essential to seek to know the life of the car.
Do you want to make sure of the seller’s good faith or, if it’s not first-hand, remove any uncertainty about the past of your future car? The Autorigin site allows you to obtain, for less than 10 euros, a vehicle history report: number of owners, previous uses, possible accidents… Reassuring traceability!
Step 4 – Schedule a meeting with the car owner
Are you sure you’ve found the used car you need? Make an appointment with the seller. Prefer a place of passage (road, car park, etc.), located near a fast lane. The meeting must take place in broad daylight: this way you will be sure to see all the defects on the bodywork or in the passenger compartment.
Make sure already with the seller that you can test drive the car. If the answer is no, move on.
Step 5 – First meeting: inspect and test the car… and the seller
It is during this meeting that you will decide whether or not to buy this used car: nothing should be left to chance.
Under the hood , take a look at fluid levels and the look of the engine block and battery. You can take the opportunity to check that the serial number on the registration card is the same as the one on the engine.
Inside the car , check the condition of the seats, carpets and plastics, as well as the trunk. Feel free to lift the mats.
The registration certificate ( ex-gray card ): check that the registration number corresponds to that of the car. Make sure with the seller that he still lives at the address indicated on his registration certificate;
The maintenance log (which traces the visits made since the vehicle was put into circulation) and the invoices: these documents are an excellent indicator of the care given to the car. Careful reading of the maintenance booklet will allow you to know whether the services have been carried out in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations and whether any significant interventions have been carried out. Loyalty to a garage of the brand of the vehicle is often a good sign. If the car is not recent, check for example the date and the mileage at which the timing belt was replaced;
The technical control report (if the car is more than 4 years old).
To begin, check on the meter that the mileage is consistent with that announced in the ad . Here again, the logbook and the maintenance invoices, which are supposed to mention the mileage at each visit/repair, can be very useful to you. Make sure that this history is consistent with the current mileage of the vehicle. If in doubt (the number of kilometers traveled is exceptionally low over a period, for example), ask the seller: he must be able to justify it.
Is the mileage recorded on the maintenance book higher than that indicated by the counter? Run away ! The counter was probably tampered with.
Before buying a second-hand car from a private individual, it is essential to drive the vehicle for a few kilometres , in order to test the engine, road holding, braking, clutch, steering, gearbox, etc. Driving it both in town and on the fast lane will give you the opportunity to shift through all the gears and assess its acceleration and braking capabilities. Don’t forget to make sure the reverse gear works properly.
Step 6 – Set the date and terms of the transaction
You have decided to buy the second-hand car and you have agreed with the seller on all the terms (price, means of payment, etc.)? Schedule a second meeting to proceed with the transaction. Allow the time needed to complete the administrative formalities (at least 3 days).
Ask the seller for the information needed to insure the vehicle, which appears on the vehicle registration document: registration number, date of first registration and mine type (D.2.1).
Step 7 – Prepare Used Car Payment
You can order a bank check (the price of which varies according to the establishments), which you will give to the seller on the day of purchase. Note that the procedure can be a bit long and tedious and that the amount, once entered on the check, cannot be modified;
A cash payment against receipt may be considered, even if it is not safe to have a large sum of money on you;
The transfer is not to be preferred : not allowing synchronization of payment and transfer of ownership of the vehicle, it will necessarily be stressful for one of the two parties.
Secure digital payment solutions
You can now use online payment solutions specially designed for the purchase and sale of used vehicles between individuals, such as . This trusted third party functions as an escrow account. It allows you, as a buyer, to:
Transfer the funds to the seller , instantly and simply from your smartphone, once in front of the vehicle, while keeping the flexibility to modify the amount in the event of last-minute negotiations;