Buying a used car can be a right nightmare. It doesn’t matter whether you’re buying from a private seller or a dealership, there’s always the nagging doubt that something isn’t quite right – or that something is actually quite wrong.
And those nagging doubts can take all the pleasure out of buying a new (used) car. Help is at hand though, as HPI, the provider of HPI check (which delves into the history of the car, including finance raised against it) has launched its used car buyer’s guide. The tool encourages buyers to do their homework to minimise the risk of buying a dodgy motor. It also highlights the latest scams employed by some of the more unscrupulous sellers.
What to look out for
The guide gives advice on what to look out for, whether you’re buying privately or from a dealer, including practical tips on how to carry out a thorough test drive, warning signs to look out for, and the importance of a professional inspection. It has a section dedicated to assessing a vehicle that includes questions such as:
Once these questions have been answered it lets you know whether you’ve got yourself a good deal or if you should leave well alone. It also has a guides section that offers tips on what type of car will best suit your needs and whether a private seller, dealership, auction, or car supermarket is likely to get you the best deal. There’s also advice on common scams such as:
- Is the V5C log book present?
- Does the car have a current MOT?
- How long has the seller owned the car?
- Does it have any service history?
- Are there any spare keys?
- Clocking – reducing the odometer’s mileage to add value to the car.
- Ringing – selling on a stolen vehicle.
- Cloning - changing the identity of a stolen vehicle to make it look legal before selling it on.
- Cut-and-shut – parts from two or more cars are welded together. Totally unsafe.
How to get the best deal The guide also offers tips on how to negotiate the best price and how to get the best warranty and car insurance deals if you’re buying from a trader. If you want more tips on how to negotiate, check out my article How do I haggle when buying a car? And seeing as Trading Standards get more complaints about used cars than anything else, and one-in-three cars checked with HPI have something to hide, the guide crucially gives advice on what to do if the purchase goes wrong. It’s worth noting that sellers can’t hide behind the ‘sold-as-seen’ get-out clause as this doesn’t affect the buyer’s legal rights – the car must match any description given in writing or verbally during the course of the sale. And, of course, it is illegal to sell a car that’s not roadworthy.