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Car Buyers' Guide: Do your history homework
AA Motoring says check the car's history
There’s never been a better time to buy a car — be it a quality used import or a new, well-equipped vehicle — but if you are on a budget it pays to take care.
Private sales are often popular for first time buyers but you need to protect yourself.
If you’re constrained by your budget, you won’t want costly repairs later if things go wrong, so a check of the car’s history is a worthwhile investment.
A vehicle history report is a reassuring and affordable pre-check that will highlight issues such as outstanding finance, odometer tampering and insurance write-offs. Remember, if there is outstanding finance on a car you’ve just bought, you’re going to inherit that debt on top of the car’s price tag.
A vehicle history report, however, doesn’t get beneath the skin of the vehicle and hidden problems could still be lurking, with the possibility that they’ll cause you financial problems later down the line. If you’re able to invest a little more upfront, a pre-purchase inspection can bring to your attention deep-rooted issues that non-mechanically minded people may struggle to find.
Sometimes sellers will be upfront with potential buyers about the problems with their car. However, there are sneakier sellers who try to make a big problem sound small, and some who just won’t make you aware of any issues with their car at all.
A vehicle inspection will give you more clarity around the overall condition of the car before you buy, so you won’t be surprised by any repair bills shortly after you’ve made your new purchase.
If you choose to go down the dealer route, you will benefit from some coverage under the Consumer Guarantees Act. If you experience a problem with a vehicle, you can return it to the dealer to try to get it resolved.
You may want to explore finance if there’s a certain car that’s just out of your price bracket. Bear in mind that interest rates are likely to increase your overall cost, so read the small print and have a calculator on hand before you sign.
If you’re considering finance, it’s always a good idea to do your homework and shop around a little first.
For first time buyers on a budget, it’s crucial that you choose the right car for your lifestyle. Having access to a wide variety of cars can often encourage buyers to make the wrong choice of car.
For example, if a first-time buyer chooses a vehicle that has a turbo-charged or modified engine, their insurance and fuel costs can dramatically increase as a result.
Again, call your insurance company for a quote on the car beforehand, not only to get an idea of the cost but to make sure they’ll cover you in the first place.
Buying a car can be like buying a new pair of shoes — it has to fit you and your everyday needs — and you definitely don’t want it to wear out in a hurry.
Spend too little, and you’re likely to find yourself travelling in discomfort in something that probably won’t last as long as a more expensive equivalent. Digging a little deeper and investing in a more reputable brand, pre-purchase checks and research may prevent you from forking out for a replacement a short time down the track.