How to pick the right car

Here’s our top five tips to consider before you start your search.

Never buy a car in the dark – Always take a good look around the car for signs of excess rust and low tyre tread. Check the body work: do the panels have uneven seams? Is the paintwork all the same shade? This is a good way to detect whether the vehicle has been involved in a crash or suffered any vandalism, which may compromise the car’s structure. You want your new car to look good, so take your time.

Confirm the car’s history – If you want to buy your car with confidence then it is essential you check that it isn’t being sold illegally. There are several different checks you can use to make sure that your car is legitimate. The DVLA has an online database which lets you access certain information about the car. If the details don’t match then there’s a chance it has been given another car’s identity – this is called ‘ringing’ and you must always report the seller to the Police. The DVLA can also provide information on how much the car tax will cost. There are many websites, including the AA, who offer a more comprehensive check which you will have to pay for. This data check will inform you if the car has been reported stolen or there is outstanding finance owing, amongst other things.

Test drive your potential car – I would recommend test driving a car for ten miles or more. Pick a route that will challenge the car. Steep hills will test the brakes, a winding country lane will demonstrate comfort and a dual carriage way will exhibit performance. Take the same route back to the garage and ask the car dealer to drive. This provides the opportunity to listen for any noises such as a shot suspension or a damaged clutch having difficulty engaging the gears.

Never pay the asking price – Car dealers didn’t buy the car for the price it was advertised, so why should you? Don’t be afraid to haggle! Be jovial yet serious and think on your feet. If there is no reduction in price or very little knocked off, let them know you will accept the deal on the condition that they throw in some extras, like a full tank of fuel, road tax or even new car mats. There are lots of ways to bag a good deal with a car salesperson!

Take someone who knows what they are doing – Taking along a friend with a background in car sales or better still a car mechanic is ideal, as they know what to look for. Tell-tale signs of rust, unexplained noises as you test drive the car and the colour of the smoke when the car is running are all things that need to be identified before purchasing.

Research carefully – Make sure you know what the typical market value of the car is that you’re buying as you obviously don’t want to pay over the odds. Also, do your research whilst you’re at the dealership. Check service history documents and make sure the vehicle identification numbers (VIN) match.

Following these simple tips will not only help you to buy the car you want with confidence, it will also be easier to sell when the time comes to replace it… good luck!