The Spanish seem to prefer buying secondhand cars, the average age or cars in circulation is in excess of 10 years; some 1.8 million used vehicles were sold last year.
It does make sense to prefer a used car to a new one but it is important to make sure you do not buy a serious problem, whether you buy from dealer or private. It is usually safer to buy from a dealer, apart from the obligatory one year guarantee, you have the assurance that the car has been inspected and that the documents are in order.
Check the going price on the internet and get a good idea of what the car you want is worth before committing yourself. Compare with what is on offer of the same year and mileage elsewhere. Of course a respected dealer will want to maintain his reputation. Remember that if a car sounds too cheap, especially privately or from a small dealer, than there may be reason to suspect something is wrong.
For safety’s reasons it is best to go for a vehicle with no more that 100,000 kms. on the clock and no more that eight years old. Beyond these points you may find that a number of things may go wrong and some quite costly. Remember that after 80,000 kms. (depending on the car) you need to change the distribution belt which is an expensive exercise. If it breaks the damage to the engine can be serious and costly. Check when it was last changed.
Beware of written off vehicles that have been made good for a quick sale. Of course they are cheap, but are they? Watch out for the smart guys that fiddle with the mileage meter, it is a fraud nevertheless it is done. Remember that a car with 70/80,000 kms. will show signs of wear on the rubber pedal covers. Look out for the mileage noted on the ITV and if the difference between one ITV and the next is little, start doubting.
Check with tráfico to make sure there are no charges on the car. Check the car, inside and out for signs of “made good” accidents and always try the car yourself before buying.
If you are not sure ask for the car to be checked by a mechanic you know.