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Buying your first car – handy tips

Buying your first car – handy tips

Buying your first car – handy tips 150 150 Paul Davies

My name is Paul and I run one of the local Driving Schools In Hull covering the whole of the East Riding of Yorkshire too.
When I conduct driving lessons in Yorkshire my pupils often ask for advice about buying their first car. Buying your first car, especially if the first car is a used car, can be a daunting experience. Below is a guide to make the process easier.

First of all decide how much you can afford to pay for your first car. Not just the sum to buy the car itself but also the running costs – car insurance, MOT, road tax, petrol, repairs and servicing. Bearing in mind that going for the cheapest is not always the best option as if its to cheap then the car probably won’t be very safe or reliable.
With a figure in mind consider what category of car you want your first car to be in. As new drivers this is likely to be a small car or maybe small family car.
Then do your research. Magazines such as Parkers and The Which Car Guide rate, review and price all types and models of cars. Road tests will give you detailed information on performance, reliability, handling and other important points. When you come to negotiate the purchase of your first car such information will prove vital. You will know the price you should be paying, whether the model has any common faults, specific issues to look out for etc.
Now with a model and price in mind you’re ready to shop. So what are the options when it comes to buying a first car?

Franchised dealer – usually better quality used cars but at higher prices.

 Good after sales services and assistance. Buying from a franchised dealer gives you maximum legal protection. Of course dodgy franchised dealers exist so look for an established company with a good reputation. Ask family and friends for recommendations. Generally speaking using a franchised dealer is a good option when buying a first car.But you will probably need to get the car on finance so as long as you can keep up the payments maybe this is a good option.

Independent dealer – often a wide variety of potential first cars at lower prices.

However, variable used car quality and after sales service. You will get the car cheaper and they offer finance but you are more likely to encounter problems with the car and the warranty is probably not worth the paper it is written on. Typically cars from these dealers can have high mileage, higher mileage usually means more problems so more bills.

Auction – potential to pick up a first car bargain.

 Car quality can be inconsistent however, and some dodgy cars can be bought. There is also little chance of financial comeback if the used car develops any serious faults. To get the best out of a car auction it is best to go with someone who knows about cars. Your usual legal rights may not apply if the seller issues a disclaimer, i.e. ‘sold as seen’, which excludes all or some of those rights. Read the auctioneer’s conditions of business carefully to check whether this is the case.

Privately – lots of used cars to choose from and low prices.

 However no after sales service and you could get ripped off. If you buy your first car privately you have fewer legal rights. The car must be as described but the other rules don’t apply i.e. there is no legal requirement that the car is of satisfactory quality or fit for purpose. Car dealers will sometimes pretend to be private sellers to avoid their legal obligations and get rid of faulty or over-priced cars. Be suspicious when ads give a mobile number, when you see the same phone number appearing in several ads, when the seller wants to bring the car to meet you.
Try to Negotiate  as sellers usually inflate the price and they will generally expect you to knock the price down a bit but be realistic when negotiating if you try to cut the price in half they won’t take you seriously.
Ask the seller to provide you with a copy of the service history manual and the user manual. Look at the service history to see how often the car has been serviced. The manual will tell you the service schedule. Each service entry should be stamped with the mechanics stamp and dated. Look to see if any other work has been carried out on the car. A good service history will also have receipts for work carried out. If the seller can’t provide any service history information then assume the car has been poorly looked after.

Test Driving A Used Car is Essential

When you do, make sure you’re insured to drive the car you’re about to test drive! Always start the engine from cold. If the engine has already been warmed up you won’t get to see if there are any cold-start or cold-running problems. If it sounds too noisy there could be a problem, likewise the exhaust.
Test the suspension by driving over some bumps. If the car fails to correct the resulting bounces quickly then the shock absorbers may need replacing. Also:
•           Turn on the radio and all other electrical gadgets. Make sure they work electric windows etc can be very expensive to repair
•           Changing gears should be smooth and easy. If not then the gearbox may need fixing which is very expensive and if it needs replacing it would be cheaper to replace the car. Check the clutch is smooth and no strange noises are coming from it if the biting point is really high this could indicate a worn clutch a new clutch costs about £500 fitted.
•           Perform an emergency stop and test the brakes. If you hear any strange noises, especially a grinding noise the brakes may be wearing thin.
Once you have completed the road test park the car, let the engine tick over, open the bonnet up and check for the following:
•           Water or oil leaks
•           Engine rattle or other odd noise
•           Black or blue smoke coming from the exhaust, which will indicate a badly worn engine
•           Grey smoke coming from the exhaust, which will indicate water leaking into the engine which could be a fault head gasket.
  • Pull out the dipstick if the oil in sludgy this could indicate a blowing head gasket check the coolant for any floating oil this could also indicate blowing head gasket
To check the car’s identity hasn’t been changed or cloned check-
The VIN or Vehicle Identification Number which can be found under bonnet, under the driver’s seat, on the chassis or etched onto a window or sunroof, for signs of tampering. All examples of the VIN must match exactly. If you see areas of glass scratched off windows, headlights, taillights or a sunroof, or if you see stickers concealing altered etching then be suspicious and walk away from the deal. The car manual will tell you all the locations the VIN can be found.
To make sure the car isn’t stolen or a ringer(cut and shut) make sure
There’s a valid V5 registration certificate with watermark, number plate, VIN and engine numbers matching those of the car, name and address of the seller, no spelling mistakes or alterations. The V5 will also list information about the vehicle including make, model and engine size, all of which should match those of the actual car.
If you buy a second-hand car you MUST make sure you are given the correct V5 certificate. You will need to use the V5 to inform the DVLA that you have bought the car and are now the registered keeper.

Clocking

 means reducing a vehicle’s mileage reading. This not only adds false value to a vehicle, but it could add to the longer term running costs of the vehicle as it might have more wear and tear than the buyer realises. With more than 600,000 clocked vehicles estimated to be on the UK’s roads, it signifies a huge threat to used car buyers.
To help detect if a car has been clocked use the checklist below.
•           Check the service history – Check the mileages displayed in the service history and look for service stamps from a genuine dealer. Ideally the service invoices will accompany the service history. If in doubt, contact the servicing dealers and check the mileages they recorded at the time of the service. Speak to the previous keeper – Get in contact with the previous keeper (details can be found on the V5/logbook). They can identify the mileage of the vehicle when they sold it. Make sure this adds up with the current mileage.
•           Trust your judgment – Check who the car was last registered to on the V5. Was it registered as a company car but has done less than 12,000 miles per year? Or is it 15 years old with only 20,000 on the clock? Look for any evidence that indicates clocking.
•           Check the mileage – It has been known for clocker’s to wind back the mileage when you first view the vehicle and then return it to its original value once the transaction is complete. Make sure you check the mileage is the same when you pick up the vehicle.
•           Look for signs of wear and tear – Does the wear and tear on the vehicle match its mileage? Be careful to look out for signs such as worn seats, steering wheels and other vehicle parts. Also look out for brand new easily replaceable parts; the wear and tear should be consistent with the vehicle’s displayed mileage.
•           Conduct an HPI Check – HPI’s National Mileage Register has over 130 million mileages recorded on it, and can identify mileage discrepancies recorded against the vehicle.
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