Buying a new car – whether it’s your very first, or a replacement for your current vehicle – is one of the biggest spends that most people face, apart from a house purchase. So it’s important to get it right, both to make sure that the car that you are interested in is right for you and your circumstances, and that you don’t fall victim to a fraudster. You may think that this is unlikely, but you would be wrong! Using an online service like Auto Check from Experian to run a vehicle history check also throws up the information that 1 in 8 of the cars that they are asked to check have been recorded as insurance write-offs, and 1 in 14 show unexplained mileage discrepancies.
All this goes to show that it pays to do your homework and to check your intended new car before you hand over your money. If you are buying a recent model, you can also find out if it is still covered by the manufacturer’s warranty, and make quite sure that the current owner hasn’t invalidated the warranty by acting outside the terms. Don´t forget to do a reg lookup as well before you buy it.
Also before going to view and try out a car, there’s lots of research that you can do online to find out more about service intervals for that make and model, fuel consumption, and even tyre size. Some tyres are surprisingly expensive to replace.
If you’re not a mechanical whizz-kid yourself, it’s also a good idea to get one of the motoring organisations to inspect the vehicle on your behalf, especially if it’s high mileage and has a few years on the clock. If the £200+ that you will have to spend on an inspection is more than you want to invest then consider asking your friendly local garage to check the car over for you.
Key things to look out for in an older car are that it has a full service history (this won’t guarantee that there’s nothing wrong, but it will provide a record of the work done on the car, and reassure you that it has been well maintained). Look for any evidence of corrosion in the wheel arches, at the bottom of the doors and underneath. (This might mean getting down and dirty, so don’t go to try a car in your best clothes!) Listen to the engine, and if there are suspicious clatters or the engine is noisier than it should be, consider walking away – it could be an early warning sign of expensive repairs!