How not to get burnt when you’re buying a second hand car 0

How-not-to-get-burnt-when-youre-buying-a-second-hand-car1Too good to be true? Unfortunately, when it comes to second hand car buying, that’s quite often the case. We all know someone who’s been unlucky/foolish enough to have bought what’s turned out to be a right old banger. There are some good deals out there, but it’s important to know what to look for. The Del Boys and Arthur Dalys of this world will have their patter all worked out to try and sway you, but take your time before making a decision and bear in mind these handy tips before committing to a purchase.

  1. Request a full service history. This is vital, especially when your knowledge of cars is limited at how to drive one. A full service history will details all work, repairs and services that have been carried out on the vehicle. If in doubt, there are four service providers that can check your vehicle’s history for you. They are:

You can also get the car’s history checked through HPI who will also tell you if the vehicle has been stolen, written off (therefore unsafe) or has any outstanding financial issues on it – you as the new owner would become responsible. You may be fortunate to get the makers original service manual with stamps showing all work that has been carried out, or you might just get a sheaf of papers. It’s important that you are also given the MOT certificates: these were always issued on pre-printed colour certificates up until October 2011, and after that as plain paper printouts. If you’re not offered these, especially if you’ve requested them, then stay well clear!

  1. Has it been ‘clocked’? It’s the old dodgy car dealer staple of doctoring the car’s mileage to make it appear that it’s done far less than it really has. To prevent against this, check the MOT certificates against the current mileage. An HPI check will also verify this.
  2. Body damage. Always look carefully at the car’s bodywork – it may have been involved in a shunt, and the seller isn’t being 100% honest. Look for an uneven spray finish (covers damage) or different sized gaps between panels (sections may have been replaced).
  3. Professional Inspection. This will cost you (usually between £100 and £170) but it could save you a packet in the long term if you end up buying a banger. Also, the peace of mind it assures is not to be underestimated.
  4. Test Drive. If you can, test drive the car. You’ll probably need insurance documents with you in order to do this. If you can’t drive it yourself, ask the seller to drive you around. Make sure the stereo/radio is turned off and be vigilant for any odd noises.
  5. If you were buying a new television, or even a new jacket you’d ask for a receipt just in case. This is no-more important than when buying a second hand car. Make sure the seller writes you a receipt, signs it and you should both keep a copy. Take time to complete the car’s V5C logbook to inform the DVLA of the car’s transfer of ownership and make sure the seller gives you section 2 to keep.

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