So you want to buy a car low and sell for a profit. These days, any chance we have to save money or even make a little is very welcome.  How about when it comes to your wheels?  Can you make money on your car?  A car is something that we know loses value at an alarming rate as soon as it leaves the forecourt.  So, as an ordinary motorist, can you really buy a banger and sell a Ferrari? With a little luck and a lot of preparation, you can; here’s how.

Buy a car low

The first thing that you need to remember is that you are going to make money when you buy, not when you sell. So, that means that you need to seek out a good deal for buying your wheels. Get this right and you will be well on your way to making a profit when you sell. 

Where to look

If you are serious about doing this, it takes a bit of leg work. Check out classifieds, car auctions and eBay for cars being sold by the owner.  The reason we say that is it’s rare to be able to buy a car cheap enough from a dealer to make the profit from selling it worthwhile.  Without the overheads of a showroom and staff, private sellers can be more flexible on price. 

Get an idea of the price

Check out the list prices for the car you have your eye on. Don’t just check one source, get really familiar with the prices that are being offered from the highest to the lowest. That way, you know where to pitch your offer.  You can use this knowledge when you are haggling with the seller. It shows that you have done your homework and know the value of the car. When you want to buy a car low and sell high, you really need to know your stuff.

Make sure you know the price a dealership would pay for the car. Often a seller will be happy to sell at this price knowing it’s less hassle to sell privately than to a dealer.  Use this to your advantage when you negotiate to buy a car.

Looks are everything

Sellers are naturally going to ask for the highest price car value sites to rate their car at. You’ll need to check some things carefully before making your offer. Look at things like:

  • Does the mileage look right for the age of the car?
  • Are there a lot of scrapes, dents and other damage?
  • How do the tyres look?
  • Does the car have a full service history?
  • How long is the MOT on the vehicle?

Checking the car over

When you check the car, always start it yourself. It’s not a good sign if the car is already running.  The car uses the most energy to start from a cold engine. If there are any problems, they’ll most likely show when you turn the engine over. Trouble turning the engine over, loud noises, clunks, clicks or other odd noises do not bode well.

Check levels of oil and water too. Pop the bonnet as the engine is running to look and listen for anything that doesn’t seem right.  Watch out for frayed or stained pipes, worn cables and question the owner if you notice anything like this.  At the very least the seller will recognise you’re someone who knows what they’re doing.

Always take a car you intend to buy for a test drive. You need to be sure it runs smoothly and cleanly, the gears are not grinding and the brakes are responsive. Brake hard at some point, so that you can assess how well the brakes work.  

Check check check!

Check all the buttons and knobs. That includes window electrics, air conditioning (if it has it), interior lights, radio and wing mirror adjustments. Make sure everything electrical inside the car works.  If it all checks out, haggle! 

Once you have bought a car at an advantageous price, you can use our selling guide to get the best price. Follow the suggestions in our ‘selling your car’ article, to see your newly bought car driving away with its new owner at the wheel, and a tidy profit in your pocket.

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How to buy a car low and sell high

You’ll need to do some research, a bit of leg work and know your stuff to make some money flipping motors.