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Make sure you have your finance in place before you go looking for your next car. This is because once you’ve found the right car at the right price you risk losing what you’ve gained by rushing into the wrong finance deal. AutosOnThe.Net have launched a “Car Finance” section, for some of the best deals currently available. Click here to visit.

Buying from a dealer

Between buying your car from a private seller and a dealer, buying from the dealer is safer, and it gives you the most protection by law. However, be careful when buying out of a lock-up garage because the vehicle might be cheap for a good reason. It is best to look for established companies and seek advice from friends or family. Garages with vehicles that have been AA/RAC/Green Flag inspected gives you a little more confidence, as the car will be checked over by an impartial engineer. Ask to see the report, it will provide you with useful information. When you’re ready to buy, remember, franchised dealers with accredited inspection schemes from the manufacturers can be a safer bet.

Buy Used Car

When you buy a vehicle from a dealer, the law dictates that the vehicle must be of ‘satisfactory quality’. However, this is a very open statement. The vehicle must meet the standard that a person would regard as reasonably acceptable with reference to how the vehicle is described and its cost. The vehicle should be free from defects unless they are/have been pointed out to you and you agree to buy the vehicle with the said defects present. In general, the vehicle should be as described and reasonably fit for any normal purpose.

Buying privately

Buying vehicles privately should save you some money, however, in doing so, you accept the risks associated. The vehicle could have outstanding finance and not actually belong to the seller or could be stolen. You basically have fewer legal rights, the vehicle must be as described. But that’s it. If the seller has lied about the vehicle in some way, you may be able to sue for losses. Thats, of course, assuming you can find the seller. Weighing up the seller is really crucial. if you don’t like or trust the seller, walk away. Is the sellers’ name on the V5? If not, why? Don’t ever be tempted to buy privately from someone selling a vehicle in a lay-by, motorway services or a pub car park. Watch out for specific times to call. The number may be a call box.

Woman buying a new car

Learn to read between the lines in the advert. Forget the ‘immaculate’ or ‘first to see will buy’ claims. Judge this for yourself. Ask tough questions. Don’t be afraid of the seller and get as much information from them as you can. Ask for the mileage – if the seller is evasive, forget that vehicle. Ask if the mileage is genuine and is it backed up with service records? It is reckoned that between 5% and 10% of all adverts identified as being private are in fact traders posing as private sellers, often trying to off-load faulty vehicles. Be warned and be careful. When you phone upstart with ‘I’m calling about the car’. If the seller asks which one they are likely to be a trader. Private adverts always seem to sound more genuine, private sellers tend to include information like ‘new clutch’ or ‘new battery’. Traders can be a little cannier. Look for the giveaways like ‘part ex-considered’ or ‘finance easily arranged’.


Decide on what you want, find out as much as you can about the vehicle you wish to buy, and find out what its worth. Often, automatics can be worth more than manuals and diesel more than petrol. Extras don’t make a car worth anymore. Use them as negotiating levers. Most sellers won’t take the alarm out of the car if you won’t pay for it to use it as leverage but don’t pay any more for it. Service histories are a must if you can. But they can add more to the value, up to 10%. Bad colors can drop the value by the same amount. Who wants a car in hearing aid yellow? Go for the cars with history, low mileage, and few owners, even if you have to pay a few hundred more.

Things to check out

If you know nothing of vehicles and what to look for when buying, get either a friend or a professional to look at the vehicle for you. Motoring organizations can usually arrange a complete and full inspection of the vehicle, but you will have to pay. This money could be well spent, as the inspection would generally highlight to you any accident damage, whether the car has been stolen, has outstanding finance or is generally safe to drive. Some inspections will actually audit the price that the seller is asking and say whether it is a fair price or not. Well worth considering, especially if you are buying a very specialist type of vehicle.

Stolen cars

If you have bought a stolen vehicle, even in good faith, the car can and will be taken from you by the Police and returned to its rightful owner. And you will get no compensation. Often stolen cars have had their identity changed so things to check:

  1. Check the sellers’ details on the V5. If there isn’t one, ask why not? Check that the V5 has a watermark, it could be forged. Are there any spelling mistakes? Be wary.
  2. Always check the three main identification marks on the vehicle. These are the registration number, the engine number, and the vehicle identification number. Look particularly at the latter, does the VIN plate look like it has been tampered with? Is it dented? Are all the information on the plate correct and the same as on the V5?
  3. Ask for more proof of identification of the seller. eg Driving license, recent bill. Can the seller show you the insurance policy for the vehicle?


It sounds a daunting prospect buying a vehicle, doesn’t it? It isn’t, you just need to be aware of the pitfalls. Remember, fore-warned is fore-armed! If you have any doubts what so ever, just walk away. There are hundreds of thousands of vehicles for sale at any time, so chances are there is another one exactly the same somewhere else.


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