The BBC reports that, in 2009, Consumer Direct received almost 72,000 complaints about used cars bought from private traders. This was the peak consumer grievance for the fourth year running and a separate Office of Fair Trading investigation found that one in five people has a problem buying a used car.
So, how do you find the perfect car in the right condition? In 2010, the BBC reported that in UK people buy 3.6 million used cars from car dealers every year, which totals £24 billion. So, when you buy your next used car, it’s crucial that you avoid these four mistakes.
Not doing your homework
When you come to buy a used car it’s vital that you do your research. Check price guides and compare similar used cars that are for sale in order that you know what you ought to be paying.
There are plenty of used car price guides online and you can also purchase comprehensive guides. These provide invaluable information and give you a clear idea of what you should expect to be charged for a used car.
Not buying through a reputable seller
You have lots of choices when you come to buy a used car. You can buy a car from a private seller, at an auction or online. However, many people prefer to buy a used car through a dealer.
Buying through a reputable dealer means that you’re protected by the Sale of Goods Act 1979, which means the car, must be of acceptable quality, fit for use.
The BBC’s Watchdog warns that if you buy a car privately, you have no statutory protection as the Sale of Goods Act doesn’t apply, and the car must only be ‘as described’.
Buying without carefully inspecting it
You should be careful to inspect a used car before you buy. Check for:
- Mismatched colours on the doors or bonnet which can indicate that the car has been repaired after an accident
- Fluid leaks – if the engine bay looks as if it has recently been cleaned then the owner could be trying to hide signs of leaks
- Dents, scratches and other problems – this is hard to do if the car is wet as water can hide some of these issues
You should make sure you can see the vehicle clearly and from all angles. This means that it is not advisable to inspect a car at night, in poor light or in the wet as you won’t necessarily be able to identify all the potential problems.
Not asking for all the legal documents
Buying a used car without checking the relevant documents is a recipe for disaster. When checking a used car, make sure you can see:
- Garage bills and a service history – most cars need some work and so an owner should include garage bills for repairs, services or items such as new Tyres or brake pads. Is the service history even?
- V5C registration document – this shows the registered keeper of the vehicle and so you can check that the registered owner is selling the car. If not, why not?
- MOT certificates – this helps you to verify that the car has been regularly MOTd and also helps you to check its mileage record. You should see the vehicle’s registration number and the document reference on the V5C so that you can check a vehicle’s MOT status/history online.
The author is associated with Sherwood garage that provides people in search of used car Scotland with the best option they can choose from.