Richard Oliff: No avoiding the used-car salesman

There's no avoiding the used-car salesman, says Richard
There's no avoiding the used-car salesman, says Richard

We used to call them second-hand cars.

We refer to them now as used: basically it’s the same thing.

Buying a car that’s already been traded in is a daunting task, yet it’s a process that millions of people go through every year.

The used car market is an intimidating place, visited only by the brave, if somewhat often naïve, punter.

Over the years things have changed, of course they have, but the fact remains that as buyers we still feel vulnerable, inadequate, as we step on to the forecourt.

There he is. Leaning against a “tarted up” Renault, watching: like a blank-faced creature from an old zoo – the salesman.

I say salesman because they are invariably men, though I’m sure there are many excellent women working in this field.

It’s just that I’ve yet to have the pleasure of meeting one.

The internet is the major difference these days: one may trawl for hours looking for a bargain or two, yet the website has yet to be invented that will let you test-drive a vehicle.

You just have to bite the bullet and visit the dealership.

Well, there it is: the car you saw on their website. No sooner have you taken your first step toward said car than you notice, in your peripheral vision, the aforementioned salesman spark into life.

Here’s a word of encouragement. My current car was born in 2004, and bought by me in 2011.

Its mileage was only 23,000 with three previous registered keepers. However, it had only ever had one elderly lady driver: whom I’d known.

Remember – the keeper(s) (in my case all family members) and the owner are not the same thing.

My little car had sat in a garage on trickle charge for years and was as good as new.

If you are confronted by the “low mileage four owner” scenario make sure you know the difference: you could be on to a winner.