What is an approved used car?

Ever seen 'approved used' cars for sale wondered what they are? Here's everything you need to know about these used cars with a difference

BuyaCar team
Jul 14, 2021

If you're on the lookout for your next car and your concentrating on the used car market, you might have noticed there are certain models listed as 'approved used'. It's an interesting term that doesn't tell you a whole lot.

Basically, an approved used car is a used car, but one that has been quality assured by the manufacturer after a series of tests and checks. Whereas the used car market can be a bit of a lottery if you're scouring cars being sold by the current owner, shopping for approved used cars comes with an element of protection.

This is mainly due to the fact the car has been thoroughly checked over, meaning you can expect an approved used car to be clean, reliable and well looked after - the criteria these cars have to meet are stringent, and you can be sure no stone will be left unturned. No one can guarantee that any used car will be 100% perfect but approved used cars are prepared to a high standard, which minimises the likelihood of any issues. 

Many of the cars on BuyaCar are approved used models, but we carry out our own thorough inspections prior to delivery to ensure any car you purchase is clean and well maintained. As with every vehicle on the site, these come with a 14 day money-back guarantee.

What qualifies as an approved used car?

Approved used schemes run a standard series of checks on every car and its history, to ensure that they are in good mechanical condition, and haven't been written off, or have finance outstanding. Each scheme has slight differences, but there are a handful of aspects that will be pretty much universal.

Every manufacturer offering an approved used service will work to a minimum approved standard, although these will differ slightly across brands. This means used cars in poor condition or with high mileages are unlikely to qualify as approved used vehicles. As a rule of thumb, most approved used cars are less than five years old.

Manufacturers will also complete a comprehensive course of quality checks on up to 120 aspects of the car. These typically include mechanical parts and paintwork, with any problems put right.

Approved used cars will also be covered by some form of warranty. If the car is still within its original warranty period then that will remain valid. If not, then an approved used car will come with an additional warranty. This will usually cover the failure of key components for at least three months; it's worth checking the exact details with any specific cars you're considering, as you may want an extended warranty that offers even more protection.

All dealers should also run a detailed history check that not only verifies the car's ownership history and roadworthiness, but also guarantee the car’s finance, mileage, theft and crash history.

Finally, most manufacturers will also promise a refund or replacement approved used car if the one you’ve just purchased develops a fault that cannot be repaired to a satisfactory standard.

It's a clear process to deal with problems without having to turn to consumer law, which allows you to claim a total refund if a vehicle, approved used or not, cannot be repaired to a satisfactory standard within a certain period.

Is an approved used car better than an ordinary used one?

The best used cars are generally cherry-picked by main dealers for their approved used schemes when owners trade them in. These vehicles tend to be no more than five years old, with low mileages and in excellent condition. There’s often a wide choice of engines, colours and trim levels too - particularly in the most popular combinations.

The checks and guarantees also provide an assurance that every car meets a high minimum standard. Of course, there are plenty of non-approved used cars of a high standard too - from private sellers and independent dealers. But unless there's the same guarantee of rigorous inspection, it's not easy to tell whether you're getting good value for money.

You'll be protected by consumer law, wherever you buy your car, but the clear standards set out by approved used schemes and an established customer service department should ensure that any issues are dealt with smoothly.

There's less consumer protection when buying a car privately than from a dealership, and considerably less than buying online on sites like BuyaCar, where you have a 14 day money-back guarantee.

What are the downsides of approved used car schemes?

In general, approved used cars are more expensive than other used cars, although the condition and guarantees that come with them will often account for the price difference.

And the fact is that no warranty or multi-point check can turn a used car into a new one. Whatever approved used car you buy, there will inevitably be some indication that the car has had a previous owner and been used to some degree, whether it’s a minor scratch or an unusual specification that was chosen from new.

 

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