How old is too old when it comes to a car? At, we’re often asked questions like “what’s the oldest you should buy a used car”, but, with so many factors to consider, it’s tough to answer.

When is a car too old to buy? You can’t give a blanket answer to this question as it varies so much on a model-by-model basis. A 13-year-old motor may run better than some 10-year-old models, for example.

That’s where a “bangernomics” philosophy comes in! If you’re wondering what that means, the term “bangernomics” first appeared in a 1989 edition of Buying Cars and, since then, it has taken on a life of its own to define old car purchases. It brings together the idea of an ‘old banger’ and ‘economics’ to help you make an informed purchase.

Bangernomics starts with one pre-requisite: the car must be inexpensive. After that, things get a bit more tricky…

Don’t fret - you don’t need to be an expert to find the best old car for you, and we’re here to teach you the ins and outs of bangernomic-inspired buying.

Simply follow our guide to buying an old car below, and you’ll be driving away in a bargain in no time.

Set a budget, and stick with it

First, you need to set a budget. This is the core of bangernomics – you need to know what you can afford upfront or on a monthly basis.

Your budget needs to include the following, too:

  • Running costs
  • Service costs
  • Insurance and car tax

This means you shouldn’t be seduced by the asking price alone. Take a holistic view of the car and consider everything about its costs.

For running costs, you can consider things like where you currently live, the car’s miles-per-gallon (MPG) and even aspects like the vehicle’s tyre size.

For example, if you’re a 24-year-old living in an urban area with your heart set on a 3.2-litre sports car that has 20 MPG, you could end up paying sky-high insurance costs and equally high fuel bills.

Setting a budget is the easy part, believe it or not. The hard part is sticking to it. You might be tempted to add on a few hundred here and there, but being disciplined will pay off in the long term.

For example, with a budget of £10k you could get yourself a reliable ten year old Volvo C30, or with a slightly higher budget, a newer version of the ever-popular Toyota Corolla.

Where are you buying the car from?

It is important to consider who your seller is. Private sellers may be the cheapest, but they bring with them an increased risk as you can’t always have a guarantee about the car’s quality or history.

Auctions are tempting, but you can’t test drive them, which is a big risk factor. Car auctions are for car dealers, so attending them as a consumer isn’t generally recommended.

Bangernomics is all about guaranteeing the safety of your purchase, and no other option does this to the same level as car dealers. While you may have to pay a little more, it’s worthwhile for their benefits, reputation and the peace of mind you’ll receive.

Is the car right for you?

Typically, people will want an old car to be their “runner”. This means getting from A to B quickly, but what, exactly, does that mean? The truth is, it’s different for every person.

You need to consider several aspects before committing to an older car:

  • Do you have children, or travel with pets? If so, is the car large enough to accommodate them?
  • Are you an outdoorsy type? Can you fit your camping gear, bikes and kit in the car safely?
  • Do you go on holiday often, or regularly work away from home? If so, can you fit luggage in the car?
  • What type of journeys do you take? Are they long-distance, infrequent or with lots of other passengers?
  • How is parking outside of your workplace? Can the car fit in your go-to tight parking spot?
  • Do you like how the car looks? Does it scream “you”?

You really need to take your time with this step and think things over. Sure, you could be buying the 10-year-old car of your dreams, but if it’s too cramped and you end up late to work because it’s a struggle to park, you’ll soon be cursing it.

Does it pass all the vehicle checks?

We may have just said that “when is a car too old to buy” is an impossible question to answer, but, if a car fails most of its vehicle checks, then it’s a sign it’s too old.

A car should pass the checks below, which you can get from the car’s registration number:

  • Provenance check – this shows you if the car is currently on finance, has been written off, its mileage and more. High-quality dealers will always have provenance checks, but it isn’t a bad idea to always use one for peace of mind.
  • MOT – this will show any serious problems that have been uncovered in previous years, such as corrosion.
  • Service history – if the old car you’re buying is advertised as having a full-service history (FSH), then this is a big plus. If not, do ask for one, as it is a strong indicator of how the car will perform.
  • Test drive – this is the most important check. It’s not always possible at the moment, but try to test drive the vehicle and make sure it “feels” right to you.

Mileage is a common check. Modern cars – even older modern cars – function much better at high mileages now. You can read all about mileages in our in-depth blog Does Mileage Matter?

To find out how to undergo the above checks, you can read our blog on the subject: How To Find The History Of A Used Car.

Is the fuel type right?

While the difference may be small, fuel type can be important when purchasing an older car. Diesel tends to create less wear-and-tear on the engine, but brings with it environmental factors.

If you’re stuck between an old petrol car and a diesel car, it might be better to go for diesel. Less wear-and-tear means a lower chance of maintenance costs down the road.

Consider your 'wants' and 'needs'

Yes, we know you’re dreaming of an old car with an amazing sound system and cushy seats, but these can be added afterwards. When buying an older car, it must meet your needs first.

It needs to have the important features such as good safety standards, power steering and automatic transmission. If it lacks any of these, then it is very likely that you’ll regret your purchase.

Find the old car of your dreams today

Hopefully, these old car buying tips will have you feeling like a bangernomics pro. By considering the above, you can rest easy with the knowledge that you’re making an informed decision.

At findandfundmycar, we have a range of high-quality cars to suit your needs. Whether you want a new model or an old runner, our list of dealers ensure you can be behind the wheel in no time.

So, if you’re buying an old, used car, check out our full range of vehicles today.

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