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What should I look for when buying a car

Where to buy a new or used car

These days buyers are spoilt for choice when buying a new or used car. The main options come down to choosing between purchasing from a dealership (either from a small local independent dealer, or from a larger, more well-known chain) or from a private seller advertising in a newspaper, magazine or online.

Buying through a Dealership

There is the degree of protection and security when buying from a dealership in comparison to a private seller.

Take your time looking through their stock and test drive any vehicles that stand out as a good option to you. Good sales staff will be able to help you find exactly what you are looking for, and if you can't find your ideal vehicle at the time of your visit, don't be afraid to ask whether the sales team can track down a model that suits your budget, tastes and specification. It's all part of the service. After all, they'll want your business now, for the sale of this car and the next one too.

But be sure to select a car that exactly matches your needs and lifestyle requirements. Don't be afraid to shop around if needed and don't allow the sales advisor to talk you into anything you don’t really want.

Buying privately

If you are buying privately, you really should do a Car Data Check on the vehicle. This will provide you with details of the car, which allows you to match these to the details that the seller has provided. Knowing that they have been honest in their advertisement will give you initial peace of mind.

A car check will also help you to rule out the possibility that the vehicle has been cloned or written off in the past. It will also show if there is any outstanding finance linked to the vehicle. It's important to learn this early on as any finance repayments would be your responsibility if you were to buy the vehicle.

Top Tip: Run a Car Data Check if buying privately to ensure there is no outstanding finance and the car has not be written-off in the past

It's wise to ask for the car's handbook and have a good look at the V5C vehicle registration document. It will confirm that the person selling is indeed the registered owner of the car. If not, walk away from the sale.

Always ask about the service history of the vehicle and check through the MOT certificates. These will show the mileage of the vehicle year-by-year. The recorded mileage should increase steadily with age. If that isn't the case, then an explanation from the seller is needed. It's extremely risky buying a car in unknown condition due to a lack of service history and you should be very wary as the potential buyer.

Regardless of which avenue you go down to buy a vehicle, it is important to get a receipt showing vehicle details, the price you paid, any specific terms of the sale and the seller's details.

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