Buying a car is one of the biggest purchases we make in our lifetime. Here’s Fifth Gear presenter and former F1 driver Tiff Needell with his top tips to ensure we get it right.
When deciding on the right car, make sure you shop around and do your homework.
Think about the likely running costs of the car including tax, insurance and fuel consumption. A bit of research into this could save you a lot in the long run.
Whether it’s a two seater sports number you’re after or all about luggage space for those ski holidays, room for the kids or the oversized dog, the size and space the car has is certainly a factor.
If it’s a specific make or model of car you’re after, go to a dealership that specifically sells cars of that make, as they tend to know more about the car.
“38% of motorists have regretted buying a car”
So you’ve found a car you like? It’s important you take it for a thorough test drive to make sure it’s the car for you.
Allow between twenty minutes and half an hour, so that you can check that you’re happy with how it feels on various types of road. Ensure you’re happy with the comfort and condition, as well as spotting any possible faults.
If you’re lucky enough to know a car expert, take them along with you. If not then there are professional vehicle inspection services available. These tend to cost around £150, so if you’re unsure yourself, it could well be worth it.
Find out from the seller if there are any modifications, as this can affect your insurance premium.
“Less than 1% of motorists felt modifications had any impact on their buying decision”
Make sure you do a thorough check of all of the paperwork. Check the details of the car match the registration certificate (V5C). Look at the car’s service history checking for any gaps. If the service is due shortly and you’re buying from a dealership, it’s worth asking that they carry it out before you purchase.
Check the MOT certificate’s expiry date. You’ll need a valid MOT in order to tax the car.
You can carry out a variety of checks on the DVLA website such as when the MOT expires, how much it will cost to tax, the SORN status and various vehicle details including colour, engine size, year of registration and manufacture and CO2 emissions.
To be really thorough it’s worth using a car checking service. In exchange for a fee, they‘ll tell you important information such as whether there is any finance outstanding, whether it has been reported as stolen, and whether the mileage correct.
“58% of drivers say knowing the car’s history is a key factor”
Always make sure you ask lots of questions and try to negotiate the price. If buying from a dealership, find out whether they offer a warranty. Remember to look out for any scratches and dents on the car. These can often be fixed quite easily and the cost of doing so may be used as a bargaining tool.
The top two questions asked by buyers:
“Can I get the best price?”
“Can I get a warranty?”
Before you start looking, you need to know how much money you’ve got to play with. For most people, this involves finding out how much your old car is worth.
You can check how much similar cars are going for by looking in the local paper or browsing the many car buying websites out there. There are also companies that offer online valuations for a fee.