Okay so you’ve just passed your driving test and simply cannot wait to get behind the wheel of your own car… stick to the speed limit and slow down before rushing into something you might regret.
Buying a new car wether it be brand new or second hand isnt something you want to go rushing into. Going off and buying the first car you come across isnt most certainly not a great idea. Buying a car is something that should be done with pacience if you are going to make sure you get the best deal you can for your money and today im going to give you some of my own personal tips from my experiences when buying vehicles over the years. I have only ever purchased cars from dealers and I have always been too scared to buy something as expensive as a car without having some peace of mind in the way of comeback and warranty so all my tips are in relation to buying from a car dealer.
Now the first thing you want to do here is some research. Have a look on websites such as autotrader and whatcar to get an idea of the sort of car you might like. Now as its your first car things like insurance are going to be something you are certainly going to have to take into account when narrowing down your selection of would-be contenders.
Once you have an idea or a shortlist of the vehicles you are interested in, and no doubt you have a budget in mind, its time to find a car dealer with a good repuatation.
Dealers buy their stock from a number of different sources. Some will be buying from auction houses such as BCA or Manheim with others buying from car buying websites or simply retailing their part exchange vehicles and topping up with right out purchases occassionally as required.
One tip I can give you here that i have used in the past to help get a slightly better deal was to find a car a private seller was trying to sell on autotrader or a buy my car website like dealerbid. If the vehicle was of serious interest I would then contact a local dealer and explain that I am interested in this car (give them the link to the vehicle listing) but would prefer to buy from a dealer as I wanted a warranty and reassurrance.
What you will usually find is they will be happy to do a slightly better deal as the car will be coming in and going straight out again without them having to pay money to advertise it etc.
Assuming you’ve found a car and are happy with who you are buying from, we need to look at some other areas just to try and make sure there arent going to be any nasty surprises.
The obvious way to check how a car seems to be mechanically without having any major techincal knowledge of mechanics is to take it for a test drive. All dealers should be happy for you to do this and if they arent they simply walk away…. theres plenty more cars out there.
When testdriving try to make sure you are driving the car from cold and take it for a decent run, lets say at least 10 or 15 minutes. This should provide you with enough time to notice and obvious issues.
Ensuring paperwork is all in order is absolutely vital. Always make sure you have seen the original logbook (V5) or at least the green slip of the logbook if this has been sent off for change of ownership, and you have gone through all the service history for the car before agreeing to purchase.
Things like MOT’s are also great to look at for things like mileage descrepancies between service history and MOT mileages that might indicate the mileage has been tampered with. There is more information on mileage adjustments scams here but common sense should alert you if a 15 year old car has only done 2k per year and looks like its on its last legs.
Dont be afraid to walk away
You have to remember that dealers or sales staff make money by making sure they sell as many cars as possible and will have lots of little tricks to try and get you to put pen to paper and agree a sale. Things like “There has been a lot of interest in this car” or “Ive got someone coming to look at it in a couple of hours” shouldnt put you off and make you rush into buying.
Take your time, maybe get a friend or family member to come back for a second look, above all make sure you are happy and you arent simply buying because you fear you might lose out.
At the end of the day everybody is different but these are some of the things that I have come across and dealt with over the last 15 years of driving and touch wood…. ive not had too many issues so I hope you can take something useful from this post.