Cynicism is crucial when buying a new vehicle! The cliché is accurate, if it seems too good to be true, then it probably is! Cars decrease in value as they age, and the older a car is, the more wear and tear it is likely to have.
To ensure that you don’t fall into the trap of excitement clouding your judgement, there are several checks that are of crucial importance for you to carry out so that you get value for money.
Check the V5C certificate, as this will provide details of how many previous owners there have been, of service history, and of mileage on the odometer at each point of service and each point of sale. If the mileage does not steadily increase with age or there are inconsistencies between the mileage and the service record, ask why. Be especially cautious if cars have a low mileage for their age, as this could be the result of an illegal practice known as “clocking”, whereby someone winds back the odometer to deceitfully increase the value.
Other illegal practices to watch out for are car cloning, where the number plate of a car is replaced by one that belongs to a vehicle of the same make, model and colour; and ‘cut and shut’, where remains of two or more cars which have been written off are welded together, then given the identity of one of the original cars. Ensure that you use a car data check to check that neither of these things has happened.
Also ensure that you take the vehicle for a test drive to check for mechanical faults and any damage. You may decide that you don’t want to buy the car due to faults, or you may want to negotiate the price. For more advice, go to the AA website.
You are more likely to be able to spot mechanical faults in a car if you understand how the mechanics of a car work, and information on this can be found on the Auto website and the Associates Auto website.
It is important to factor in how much the upkeep of the car will cost you over time. For instance, if the car’s engine has a cam belt rather than a chain, this will need changing as it reaches a certain mileage or age. Damage to the engine due to not replacing the cam belt will cost thousands of pounds for repair and will decrease the value of the car when you come to sell it. It might be more cost effective to buy a car that has a chain on the engine because this will last for as long as the car. Valuations of specific vehicles can be obtained at cap-hpi.com, and more information on what affects the cost and value of a vehicle over time can be found at cars.com.