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The desire to own a car remains high in Switzerland. According to the Swiss Mobility Barometer 2023, over 80 per cent of respondents still decide to buy a car. In 2022, around 712,000 of these were used cars. Buyers hope to find a vehicle in perfect technical condition at an affordable price that will serve them well for some time to come. In this article, we show you what you need to look out for when buying a used car.

The used car market and its challenges

Buying a used car can have its pitfalls - after all, you are buying a car that has already spent a certain amount of time on the road and therefore has a history. You don't know how one or more previous owners have treated the car. In addition, it is often impossible to tell whether the vehicle has hidden defects or has been involved in an accident. And then there is always the uncertainty when the next motor vehicle inspection (MFK) is due: What if you're suddenly hit with high repair costs or are forced to look for a replacement vehicle? None of this can be estimated with certainty in advance. It's not for nothing that the used car market is referred to as a "lemon market".

Welcome to the Lemon Market

The term "lemon market" comes from economic theory and describes a market in which buyers are often in doubt as to whether a vehicle on offer actually has all the promised features. In other words, in the used car market there is always some uncertainty about what you are getting for your money. This uncertainty often means that buyers are not prepared to pay a high purchase price, even if the used car actually has this value.

In this "lemon market", it is difficult to judge the quality of a used car in advance, and buyers often have to rely on luck and negotiating skills. This is one of the reasons why Carvolution's car subscription is becoming increasingly popular as a transparent and secure alternative, as it effectively minimises the uncertainties and risks of buying a used car.

Checklist: Clarify these questions before buying a second-hand car

Even if you are very careful when buying second-hand, there is always a residual risk when buying a used car. Hidden vehicle damage or unexpectedly high material wear and tear can result in incalculable follow-up costs.

To ensure that your used dream car does not turn out to be a nightmare, you should therefore clarify the following questions before buying a used car:

  • How many previous owners did the car have? Every driver leaves traces, and the more previous owners, the more opaque the history of the vehicle becomes.

  • Are all the important documents complete? Complete documentation can tell you a lot about the maintenance and condition of the vehicle.

  • Has the car ever been involved in an accident? If so, what were the consequences? This is crucial for safety and resale value.

  • How modern is the equipment? Which functions are missing? An older car may lack modern conveniences.

  • Does the used car have summer and winter tyres? If so, what is the condition? This is important to ensure that the car is equipped for all weather conditions and that there are no unexpected costs.

  • Is there room for manoeuvre on the price? Negotiation can have a significant impact on the purchase price.

Minimise uncertainties with a car subscription

In this article, we have shown you what you should look out for when buying a used car. The used car market, also known as the "lemon market", harbours uncertainties and risks, as you can never be sure what history a vehicle has. It is therefore important to clarify questions about the vehicle's history, documentation, accidents and equipment. Negotiating the price and concluding a written purchase agreement are other important steps to ensure that you get a reliable car.

Nevertheless, a certain residual risk remains. This is why Carvolution's car subscription is becoming increasingly important, as it minimises uncertainty and makes costs predictable. But no matter which option you choose in the end: Our aim is for you to make the best possible decision and enjoy your vehicle for a long time.

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