Buying a car? Don't forget this list, even when you're ready to look at car finance deals!
So, you’ve started shopping for your next car – but what do you need to know? If you’re buying from a reputable used car dealer then they will provide you with all the information on the car, but unfortunately that’s not always the case. With the rise of sites like Gumtree and Pre-Loved, more and more car buyers are getting stung by dodgy deals. So how do you know you’re getting a bargain and not an old banger?
When buying used, it’s vital that you’re completely clued up on the car’s history – and there’s certainly no harm in taking a check list of questions with you, just to err on the side of caution. Don’t get excited planning things like seat covers and car finance deals, until you know all the facts. Here we’ve listed a few things you should always ask… And we’ll explain exactly why they’re important along the way.
1. “What sort of condition is it in?”
This is a nice, broad and open-ended question to get you started. The trick with this one is just to keep quiet – see where the seller takes it. They might bring up something interesting that you hadn’t even thought to think about.
2. “Is this the original paint job?”
Now’s the time to get specific. This one isn’t about colour-vanity; it’s about the car’s history. If a car has had a respray in the past, it’s a possibility that that’s just the tip of the iceberg and that underneath that shiny new hood has been a whole host of other nasty past repairs.
3. “Has the car ever been in an accident?”
If you were hinting at this with the previous question, now’s the time to just come right out and ask. Cat D and Cat C cars come with a murky past and no doubt a wealth of costly issues. If you’re thinking about buying one to save costs, consider checking out your credit score and seeing if you’ll qualify for a low-interest car finance deal instead – you can spread the cost of the car, and make sure you’re safe when driving.
4. “Why are you selling it?”
You’d be surprised how many cars that are listed online are being sold on behalf of ‘retired, female mechanics that only really drove to Tesco on a Sunday.’ When buying a used car privately, you can almost put the seller on the spot a little bit by asking this question. It’s an easy to pick up on any bad vibes and will keep your mindful of any potential problems.
5. “Who was the previous owner?”
If you’re buying from a dealer and you’ve already started to discuss car finance and warranty packages, rewind back and remind yourself to ask this question. Getting an idea of who owned the car previously can be just as informative as a service history – and again, if the seller is unwilling to elaborate this should raise alarm bells.
6. “How many previous owners has it had?”
If you’ve got your eye on a car, always find out its magic number. A high number of previous owners could be an indication of a reoccurring problem – two or more owners and you really should take a close look at the service history.
7. “What’s the mileage?”
Average mileage on a used car comes in around 12,000 miles per year. If a car has way more, or loads less, miles on the clock, ask more questions. If the seller starts mumbling about lots of motorway miles, when he’s just told you it was only really ever driven to the shops and back twice a week, be very wary. In this case, it’s probably time to stop planning your car finance deals and furry dice, and head back to the drawing board.
8. “Can I take it for a test drive?”
At cartime, absolutely yes you can – a fun test drive tends to be our favourite part of the buying process. But so many private sellers and dealers hesitate at this question, and this is when alarm bells should ring. It’s a test drive that’ll tell you that the handbrake sticks, or that there’s a sticker covering up the engine warning light. If a seller isn’t happy to let you try the car out, just walk away.
9. “What car finance deals can you do for me?”
If the car checks out to all your questions, now’s the time to start thinking about how you’ll pay for it. Obviously this question only applies to when you’re buying from a dealer, but it’s one you need to ask. Try and be fully aware of the car finance packages available to you, before you fall in love with the car – this way, you’ll know what you can afford and avoid any disappointment.
If you need help or advice with specific car finance deals, call one of our specially trained finance team. You can read our post on HP and PCP finance, and always check the cartime website for up-to-date information, plus our latest offers.