YOUR GUIDE TO BUY­ING A USED CAR

Think­ing about buy­ing yourself a pre-owned car? Read of our list of points to con­sider be­fore splash­ing out

Belfast Telegraph - NI Carfinder - - News -

TREAT­ING yourself to a new car – ei­ther brand new or pre-owned – is one of life’s joys.

But, since it’s one of the big­gest pur­chases you’ll likely ever make af­ter a mort­gage, it’s al­ways best to be pre-armed with a good deal of knowl­edge.

The best thing about a used car is VFM – value for money. The first ini­tial stage of de­pre­ci­a­tion is al­ready over with.

There are of course dif­fer­ent ways to buy a used car but the safest bet is to pur­chase one from a rep­utable dealer.

This may not al­ways be as cheap as buy­ing from an owner, but it’s the safest and least com­pli­cated. A good rule of thumb is if you’re not com­pletely cer­tain about what you’re do­ing: stay main­stream.

In the trade, used cars are usu­ally priced ‘nearly new’ or ‘used’. Nearly new cars are up to one year old, with many look­ing vir­tu­ally brand new.

Older used cars are of­ten seg­mented into two cat­e­gories – one to three years old, and over three.

Nearly new and used cars of­ten have very low mileages and have thou­sands of pounds off the new list price, so are of­ten out­stand­ing value.

One of the best surest ways is the man­u­fac­tur­ers’ ap­proved net­works, like Ford Ap­proved, Skoda Ap­proved, Net­work Q, etc. All car mak­ers have their own prod­ucts, and again, whilst of­ten not the cheap­est, they have the de­cided ad­van­tage of the sheer scale of their oper­a­tions and the de­tailed knowl­edge their me­chan­ics have of their own ve­hi­cles.

You can rest as­sured with ap­proved deal­ers – as you can with main­stream garages – that the car’s ser­vice his­tory and mileage is gen­uine.

You’ll also have peace of mind that their af­ter-sales pro­cesses, me­chan­i­cal break­down guar­an­tees, hire-pur­chase fa­cil­i­ties, in­surance, etc. are all above board.

In­de­pen­dent garages usu­ally have mod­els that span wider ages, but also they will have a wider choice of mod­els from a range of man­u­fac­tur­ers. You’ll of­ten find them less ex­pen­sive an op­tion, too.

Here, you’ll find bar­gains in­clud­ing sav­ings on the pur­chase price, and some keenly priced in­surance deals as well. Many garages in North­ern Ire­land will also pro­vide added value through ser­vic­ing and re­pair deals.

BE­FORE BUY­ING A USED CAR

It’s crit­i­cally im­por­tant to test drive your tar­get car on the ac­tual road. How does it feel? Are the brakes ef­fec­tive and re­as­sur­ing? Are there rat­tles, smells or leaks?

Faults will soon be re­vealed with a test drive – and don’t be afraid to in­sist on more than just a trip around the block.

Check the doc­u­men­ta­tion (log book, etc. see be­low) and if ap­pro­pri­ate, check it has a cur­rent MOT cer­tifi­cate. If buy­ing from a proper dealer, check if he or she will stand over any is­sues and for how long.

Watch out for a proper ser­vice his­tory and check the mileage. A range of com­pa­nies in­clud­ing HPI will check the car’s back­ground, some­times for free, for is­sues like mileage, in­surance his­tory and more.

When you buy from a rep­utable dealer, the car’s fi­nan­cial his­tory will have been checked to show there are no out­stand­ing hire pur­chase agree­ments on it and that it is nei­ther an in­surance to­tal loss nor been stolen. It’s good prac­tice to ask for proof of all checks.

Make sure to check all doc­u­men­ta­tion be­fore en­ter­ing into any fi­nance agree­ment or war­ranty re­gard­ing a used car.

OUR TOP USED CAR BUY­ING TIPS

The DVLA strongly rec­om­mends that any­one con­sid­er­ing pur­chas­ing a used car pri­vately should take fol­low­ing prac­ti­cal steps to limit the chances of be­ing sold a stolen ve­hi­cle: • Al­ways have sight of the reg­is­tra­tion doc­u­ment V5 prior to pur­chase. • Check the ve­hi­cle iden­ti­fi­ca­tion num­ber ( VIN) – some­times called the chas­sis num­ber – cor­re­sponds with the num­ber on the reg­is­tra­tion doc­u­ment. This num­ber can usu­ally be found on a metal plate un­der the bon­net or is vis­i­ble at the bot­tom of the wind­screen on newer ve­hi­cles. • If you have limited knowl­edge of ve­hi­cles take an ex­pe­ri­enced per­son with you. Be very wary of hand­ing over cash to some­one who has been con­tacted through a mo­bile num­ber. • If nec­es­sary, use the likes of HPI or Ex­pe­rian to check if the ve­hi­cle has been se­ri­ously dam­aged, no­ti­fied as stolen or is sub­ject to out­stand­ing fi­nance.

There’s a world of deals out there. The safest will be with ap­proved schemes and rep­utable deal­ers.

Af­ter you’ve bought there re­mains the most im­por­tant tip of all – sit back and en­joy your pur­chase.

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