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What should I look for when buying a car

What should I look for when buying a car?

When it comes to buying a used car, the choice of suppliers is almost as long as the list of makes and models available. You could purchase from a dealer - either an independent or a franchised manufacturer dealership, a private advertiser perhaps from the papers or now more often from the Internet. So, what are some of the things that you should consider before you part with your money?

Well, if you think about it, purchasing a vehicle adds up to a great deal more than just a single transaction. You need to think about whether you want to part-exchange your current car and quite possibly you'll need to organise some finance.

Top Tip: Search online for tips of what to look for and information on common problems for the model you are looking to buy

There's a lot to think about, but once you've done your homework and you're armed with the facts, there's no reason that, if you take your time, you can't get a great car that will serve you well for years to come.

Buying through a Dealership

There is the degree of protection and backup when you buy from a dealership when compared to a private seller. But then, you may be paying more for your motor and well, we've all heard the stories about that Arthur Daley, dodgy car dealer type. But...

A good dealership is not like that at all! Good sales staff will be able to help you, and in the event that 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.

Take your time looking through their stock and choose wisely. Be sure to select a car that exactly matches your needs and lifestyle requirements.

Buying Privately

If you are buying privately, you really should do a Car Data Check on the vehicle. This will make sure that it is the car that the seller is telling you it is, that it hasn't been cloned or written off in the past. It will also show if there is any outstanding finance on it. If you part with your cash to buy a car that is still under finance, then the company that lent the money in the first place will be the owner, and they will come to you and ask for the money or repossess the car.

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 you the car is the registered owner. If not - then walk away.

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.

If the seller doesn't have these, then it's good to ask yourself why. A good service history will tell you the story of a good car - a lack of them may be a sign of someone who doesn't really care about their cars. Do you want to buy a used car from them?

And Finally...

Don't be pressurised into buying, there are many other vehicles and cars out there. If for whatever reason you just don't feel right about your proposed purchase, listen to those feelings. Don't commit yourself to something that you're not happy with. Don't forget to get a receipt showing vehicle details, the price you paid, any specific terms of the sale and the seller's details. Hopefully you'll never need to return with a problem that needs sorting, but it's better to be safe than sorry.

It's always good to do some homework on the car, checking price guides and searching online for information on common problems or tips of what to look for. Once prepared, you can go out and buy that car of your dreams with confidence.

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