Age is not al­ways as it seems when you buy from a showroom

Autocar - - USED CARS - James Rup­pert

When you buy a shiny car, how brand new is it any­way?

We don’t re­ally do brand new cars in this column, for ob­vi­ous rea­sons. But the thing is, when you go to the showroom and buy a shiny car, how brand new is it any­way? Three years af­ter Saab of­fi­cially died in 2011, new ones were still be­ing reg­is­tered in 2014.

I have fo­cused on this be­cause reader Mr Brooks told me his tale of just such a ve­hi­cle, which seemed to have been left be­hind.

“I thought I had bought a brand new Jeep Chero­kee on 25 Septem­ber 2015 only to discover that it was ac­tu­ally a 14-month-old car that had been parked in a com­pound with its brakes locked on,” he says. “The leather was shot and dried out and the brakes had to be re­placed. The tyres had flat spots, too.”

Of course, it all gets com­pli­cated and Jeep has a dif­fer­ent view: that Mr Brooks knew how old the car was and ben­e­fited from a dis­count as a re­sult. Mr Brooks re­futes that and says it was only at the ser­vice when the brakes failed af­ter 5000 miles that the work­shop man­ager re­vealed just how old the Jeep ac­tu­ally was. This is a mat­ter for FCA cus­tomer ser­vices, but the point is that, un­less you have ac­tu­ally specced the new ve­hi­cle and waited for it to be built, then you don’t know how old the car you are buying re­ally is.

Deal­ers don’t like to have stock and usu­ally they don’t have very much, be­cause it costs them money. But they might have to over-or­der cer­tain mod­els be­cause of al­lo­ca­tions and that is when higher spec cars can end up in muddy fields. This means, un­less it’s made crys­tal clear to you on what date the ve­hi­cle was ac­tu­ally made, it is al­ways best to ask.

The Ve­hi­cle Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion Num­ber is the birth date and the dealer should be able to tell you when it left the fac­tory and give you the op­por­tu­nity to quiz them on what it has been up to in the in­ter­ven­ing pe­riod.

I would like to think that you are an avid enough Au­to­car reader to know about anorak stuff, like midlife model facelifts, en­gine up­grades and spec­i­fi­ca­tion changes. Per­haps the best knowl­edge is what cars are not sell­ing. Any­one who knows where the new, un­sold ve­hi­cles are parked – usu­ally it is air­fields – will have an idea of which mod­els need their age ver­i­fied. Right now, sadly, it is JLR prod­ucts among those clog­ging up the taxi lanes and you can get an XJ with more than £20,000 off.

A cou­ple of years ago, we did men­tion huge deals on pre-reg­is­tered Jeeps and maybe that was a warn­ing that might have helped Mr Brooks.

New cars quickly grow old at stor­age car parks, so ver­ify real age be­fore you buy

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