Buying a used car is a great way of cutting the cost of your driving as most new cars lose around 40% of their value in the first year. However as with buying any car whether it is new or old there are risks so it’s important to take your time rather than rush into any deal.
The Car and Budget
Before rushing into shopping for a car it is important that you figure out how much money you have to spend on a car. This would include selling the car you may be using now if you do not want to keep it or looking into the value of it to sell at a later date. Another key point here is to decide whether you want to sell your car privately or part-exchange it with a dealer.
Now onto the fun part, the car! With more car choice available than ever before, choosing your perfect car is now harder than ever as you are so spoilt for choice. Therefore it is important that you spend some time working out what you need from your car and what brand of car is your ideal choice. You will want to think about what you are going to use the car for exactly (commuting or social driving), how many passengers will be in the car and how much it will cost to insure, tax and maintain.
It is important to know how much the car is going to be insure, tax and maintain because you want to make sure that you are buying a car that you can afford in the long run.
Looking for a car an also take a bit of research, and Autotrader can seem like the best bet for you used car searches. Many used car dealer websites are atrocious, for both functionalty and design. For used car dealers, the pressure is on to improve their website to ensure they are helping consumers in their search or a used car. In an attempt to help us consumers buy their next car, I’d recommend looking at eDealer, which is a dealership management software to help improve the automotive industry.
Contacting the seller
Once you have found the car that you are happy with and meets all of your motoring needs then it is now time to contact the seller. Contacting the seller can reveal a lot of valuable information about the car that may not be in the ad for the car therefore it is important that you ask the right questions. These questions would need to be thorough details about the past and current condition of the car.
TIP: Make sure that you ask whether the car has been in an accident and if it has you may want to go to plan b and re-look at your options.
When you have got all the information you need and you are happy with the information the seller has given you about the car you should then arrange a couple viewings to see the condition of the car yourself. This viewing is crucial therefore you may want to view it in daylight and on a dry day so that you can inspect the car for any damaged that were not mentioned first. So pack a magnifying glass for your journey!
Inspecting the Car
This is the point where you put your mechanic hat on and think hard about what you need to look out for. A few golden tips here are:
Get a car history check to find out if the car has any outstanding finance, has been stolen or written off
• Examine the logbook, service history and previous MOT certificates – to spot if the car has been clocked (mileage tampering)
• Check the car’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) at the base of the windscreen, under the bonnet for any signs of tampering, and make sure they match the VIN in the logbook
• Look for rust, mismatched paint and uneven gaps between body panels
• Make sure all the car’s main features work
Testing the Car
Testing the car is your chance to see if you like how the car feels and whether you feel comfortable in it but more important to assess the functionality of each feature of the car. You should always make sure you spend at least 20 minutes testing the car on different types of roads e.g. over speed bumps, dirt, round bends and across long stretches of roads. However you must ensure that you arrange suitable insurance cover before you drive the car as protection if there is an accident.
A key point here is to ensure that you are checking the brakes, gears, steering and suspension of the car to ensure that they are all working properly and make sure there are no unusual noises or vibrations whilst driving.
Doing the Paperwork
The paperwork is the most important part of the entire process and this will provide information of the history and ownership of the car:
Ensure all paperwork looks and feels genuine – photocopies and print outs could be fake
Check the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) recorded in the logbook is the same as displayed in the car, and the sellers information is correct
Ensure the recorded mileage is in line with the mileage displayed in the car, and that regular maintenance has been carried out
Check the MOT certificates to ensure the cars mileage is correct
Complete the new keeper parts of the v5C (logbook) to send it to the DVLA