If you are thinking about purchasing a used car here are our top tips writes Geraldine Herbert
1) Set a Budget
Tempting as it is to choose the car first you are always best to set the budget before you go shopping for a car. When setting a budget consider all of your monthly expenses including mortgage or rent, child care costs, etc, and also factor in any debt payments including credit cards or loan repayments.
2) Cash or Finance
If you have some savings accrued during the lockdown you may be considering paying for a used car in cash. One of the main advantages of buying with cash is that you don’t pay any interest on the transaction. However, it is worth remembering that buying in cash may mean that you would be left with little or no savings to cover unforeseen expenses. On the other hand with a loan, you will have to pay interest so you need to work out what works best for you.
3) Pay the Right Price
Do some research to determine if you are being asked to pay a fair price. Search online for cars of the same age, condition, mileage, and those with similar extras.
4) Consider the Running Costs
What are the insurance implications, work out the average mileage you travel per month, the car’s fuel efficiency and the ever-escalating cost of fuel, age, the mileage will all affect servicing and maintenance costs.
5) Do a History Check
6) Examine the Car in Daylight
Inspect for dents and marks everywhere and ensure all functions are working, lights, wipers, air conditioning, the radio etc. Check for consistency in paintwork, mismatched panels could suggest that the car has been involved in an accident. Look for obvious signs of age, a worn steering wheel and pedals are a good indicator.
7) Low or High Mileage
Don’t be too concerned about the mileage if buying an older car, high mileage is a sign of a reliable car so its nothing to worry about on the other hand when mileage is low it could indicate that the car has only been used occasionally or for short journeys neither of which is good for a car. Concentrate more on the condition and servicing of the car.
8) Take it for a Test Drive
Pick a route that will take in the town, open roads, and, if possible, a motorway. If buying privately, make sure in advance that your insurance will cover you for the drive. A dealer should provide cover for test drives. Try every gear, including reverse, and test all the controls, including wipers and lights. Turn the radio and air-conditioning off and open the windows to ensure there are no unusual road noises. You should be able to switch between gears smoothly without any grinding noises. If the clutch is too stiff or weak that could be a sign of trouble. Test the brakes, including the handbrake.
9) Know your Rights
If you buy privately, while it can save you some money upfront, you won’t have the same legal protection as you would if buying from a dealer. If something goes wrong you should make contact with the seller as soon as possible. If you bought from a dealer you will be protected under law and the car must be fit for purpose, of satisfactory quality and match its description.
Ask to see all of the relevant documents including the logbook (vehicle registration cert), NCT certs, and service history. Examine all the details of these carefully for any discrepancies.
About the Author
Contributing Editor and Motoring Columnist for the Sunday Independent and editor of wheelsforwomen.ie. Geraldine Herbert is also a regular contributor to Good Housekeeping (UK) and to RTÉ, Newstalk, TodayFM and BBC Radio. You can follow Geraldine on Twitter at @GerHerbert1.
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