The next best thing to buying a brand-new car (sponsored)

With the Volvo Selekt Approved Used Car programme, Volvo retailers strive to provide the same experience as new-car customers

If you head to your local retailer looking for a brand-new car, you expect the red-carpet treatment. A pleasant waiting area, plenty of coffee and tea, excellent staff and enticing finance deals. Secondhand car buyers haven’t always been offered the same level of service, but the Volvo Selekt Approved Used Car programme aims to change that.

"We want to ensure that the person who buys a Volvo Selekt Approved Used Car gets the same experience as they would if they'd bought the car as new – the true Volvo experience," Bruce Greenwood, Volvo Car UK's National Used Car Programme Manager told us. "Today, Volvo is very focused on attractive design, but we also develop technology to make our cars more useful and convenient and to build on the core Volvo values of excellent safety and environmental responsibility. The Volvo Selekt Approved Used Car programme ensures we can follow through on that with used cars as well as brand-new models."

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Customers can choose from a vast range of Volvo models through the programme, from several months to several years old. "About a third of the cars are former retailer demonstrators or Volvo UK company cars, another third are cars part-exchanged with the retailer and another third come from the retailer going out into market and buying stock," Greenwood explains. "About 65% of the cars are up to two-years old, with another 35% from two to five-years old. Leasing forms a big part of our new-car sales, and we work in partnership with that side of the business to generate more cars for the Volvo Selekt programme that have been serviced at main retailers."

One of the most important elements of the Volvo Selekt Approved Used Car programme is the very thorough inspection and reconditioning procedures that all cars must go through before they're made available to buyers. "The cars don't always need a huge amount of work done, but it's a detailed check to ensure they're fully up to the required standard," Greenwood says. "Each car that comes through the retailer gets a 'passport', which consists of a customer-facing element with a brochure, plus a checklist that outlines the inspection process for the technicians. It covers every area of the car step-by-step, starting off with at least a five-mile road test in varied conditions to ensure features like active cruise control and blind-spot warnings are functioning correctly."

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Once the car is back in the workshop, the inspection continues. "The technician will plug the car into the computer, run diagnostics and check for any fault codes. This is also the point at which they'll carry out software upgrades, which is a key part of the reconditioning process. It's just like the software on your smartphone or tablet; you get regular updates which can enhance its functionality. Any independent garage can invest in Volvo diagnostic systems in order to trace faults or carry out repairs, but the full package of software updates is only available within the retailer network."

There are also strict 'optical' standards related to any damage on the car's wheels or paint. Greenwood does stress, however that these vary according to how old the cars are. While the Volvo Selekt Approved Used Car programme assures customers of 'the next best thing to buying new', it doesn't guarantee the cosmetic standards of a showroom-fresh car can be matched.

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Under the bonnet, plenty gets checked out, too – indeed, there's a big overlap here with work that's usually carried out during a regular service visit to a retailer. "But there are more checks in this process than in a service," Greenwood says. "And if a car is due a service within three months or 3,000 miles, it's carried out as part of the reconditioning. The whole process is designed to make sure the car is in absolutely fully functional condition and that it won't need any general maintenance for at least four or five months from the time of purchase."

Small wonder then, that after such a detailed inspection, Volvo is happy to stand over these cars with a year's free roadside assistance, a comprehensive 12-month unlimited-mileage warranty and a promise to exchange a car up to 30 days or 1,500 miles after purchase for another of equivalent value if the buyer isn't satisfied. Greenwood says this is "the ultimate statement of our confidence in the product and the checks the cars have gone through”.

Find out more about the Volvo Selekt Approved Used Car programme.

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