Buying a first car – 8 need-to-know things to save you money

Buying your car is an exciting time, but there are some things you definitely need to include in your car shopping to save you time and money down the line. Don’t let dodgy dealers or cars that aren’t quite what they seem ruin the excitement of buying your first car!

Run a vehicle history report
If you’ve found a car you really like, ask for the vehicle identification number and run a vehicle history check. This will tell you the genuine mileage of the vehicle, so you can tell if the clock has been wound back. It will also tell you if the car has previously been written off as part of an insurance claim – if the car is a Category C or D, it could be hard to get insurance, so check this first!

Check the gadgets
It’s easy to forget to check that all of the internal gadgets work. So remember to make sure the radio, air con, lights and other internal electrics all work before buying the car. Ensure the windows roll down correctly, and the window wipers work efficiently. Your car can fail an MOT for having window wipers that don’t clear the windscreen effectively or are torn.

Check for leaks
Always look under where the car is parked to check if there’s any water or oil pooling under it, as this could signify an oil or water leak.

Test drive the car
Always take the car for a test drive. This way you’ll be able to check the condition of the clutch, brakes and gear box. Turn the radio off and listen for sounds like squeaking or rattling, which could alert you to any number of problems. Also, where it is safe to do so, place your hands lightly on the wheel to see if the car pulls to one side – this could be a symptom of anything from unbalanced wheels to tracking issues. This will also give you a chance to see if the car is comfortable to drive!

Check the car’s service history
If the car has been frequently serviced, any issues will have been picked up earlier, and the car is generally likely to be in better condition. It’s a key sign that the car has been well looked after.

Does the car have a valid MOT certificate?
If the car doesn’t have a MOT certificate, it’s wise to ask why - this could signify that there’s an underlying problem which means it may not pass the MOT after you’ve purchased it.

Does the car have a V5 (logbook)?
You will need the V5 in order to get insurance in many cases, so definitely do not buy a car which doesn’t have one or which the owner isn’t able to show you.

Take someone with you who knows cars
If you’re not very savvy with cars, take someone who is! That way they can thoroughly check the car before you buy, and pick up on anything you might miss.

Posted on March 12, 2018

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