It is no secret I am a complete petrol head, the first word I ever spoke was “car”. Now some years on I have swapped the matchbox cars for bigger four wheeled toys, and if I am not driving my cars I am either working on one or talking about them.
Because I am a not so discrete fanatic when my friends are in the market for a new car they often call upon me for advice. My first piece of advice I would give to anyone is that if you do not know what you are looking for; make sure you take someone that does. Alternatively there are a number of reputable car buyers who will find and check over a car to your requirements.
There are many places online to look for cars such as;
The paid for advertising websites usually offers the best quality cars. People are more reluctant to spend £30 if they are not sure someone will actually buy it. You have to question why someone who knows the car well would doubt its saleability. eBay is a minefield but can have quite the reward hidden amongst the old dogs, needs attention and hidden issue cars. Some people use it as a site to dispose of a car they know has issues and can be quite light on the information. Also cars on eBay are not always cheaper, I have seen many a car go for more than it should due to people thinking they are getting a bargain. Gumtree is an online free advert service and can be a source for bargain cars. Generally to take advantage of where the cheap cars are you need knowledge and to have your wits about you. There are a couple of online resources, and checks you should always do when buying a car. The first thing I do is go to whatcar.com and use their ‘Free valuations’ service. This service uses the same database the dealers subscribe to. You can check a cars value based on its trim, age and mileage. And prices are given for franchised dealer, non-franchised dealer, private and trade. Now you have a good indication if you are in the right ball park or where to haggle to. The second thing I would do is check the market for similar cars to check the market reflects the prices given above. Thirdly I would make a call and ask the seller for the document reference number off the V5 document. You can input this number plus the vehicle make and model on the government vehicle database. Here you can see records for all MOT’s the car has ever had and check for discrepancies. This is a free way to check if a car has had its mileage clocked. Once satisfied it is time to go view the car, there is no point wasting fuel if the car has not satisfied the previous points. When viewing the car check all the basics such as fluid, all the switches work, no signs of crash damage etc. Other things I look at are the tyres firstly to check they have plenty of tread, but also that they are matching. A car maintained on the cheap will only have odd tyres done when needed. When you are satisfied the car is for you cast your eye over the paperwork, check the engine and chassis numbers match and all the history is present. No history is not always the end of the world but it would have to be very cheap! I would always factor a service and cambelt into the price as if you do not know it has been done get it done. Clutches can go anytime and mileage is no indicator of safety. Before purchasing the car it is now time to spend some money on a HPI check. This will indicate if it has been written off, stolen or clocked. It can be expensive to do this on every car you see so leave it until your almost sure it is the car you are going to buy. And last of all if you are not sure, walk away!