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Buying a second hand car

When you buy a second hand car, you could make great savings compared to the cost of buying a brand new car. With the right approach and by making sure you’ve done your research, you could find yourself a great bargain that’s perfect for you.

Use your common sense

This applies to everyone who’s looking at purchasing a car – old or new. Do your research and look out for known scams and tricks. It can be a daunting process, especially when you’re spending so much money. If you’re not confident of knowing enough yourself, trust a professional. All major motoring organisations, like the AA and the RAC, can accompany you to check over a vehicle you’re interested in. There’s a cost for this, but it’s a small price when you compare it to buying the wrong car.

Things to be aware of

Here is a list of some potential problems and how to avoid them: Clocking – this is the illegal practice of winding back the odometer (the mileometer). Some people use 10,000 miles per annum as a rule of thumb for reasonable mileage. Look at the service history and MOT documents – these note the mileage each year and could help you ensure the mileage shown is the actual mileage. Car cloning – this is where a vehicle is given the identity of another. If you buy a cloned vehicle you’ll likely lose both your money and the car you think you’ve bought. Your best defence here is the V5C form that should accompany every vehicle. If your seller doesn’t have one, it’s probably best to walk away. Cut-and-shut – this is where parts of two or more cars are welded together. This is normally the result of accident damage and an insurance write-off. Make sure you invest in a car data check, which could be from someone like the AA.

Know as much as you can

Do your research before you decide to buy any car. Look online and see if the model you’re looking at has any common faults to look out for. Is one engine size better than another? Are there electrical gremlins? Is the sunroof known to leak around the seal? The more you investigate, the happier your ownership of the car could be.

Look at the car you’re thinking of buying

Make sure you have a proper look. Spend time doing it and don’t be put off by the seller. Make sure you see the car in good daylight. Look along the length of the car, as that could help you see any dents or misaligned panels. Avoid looking at a car at night or when it’s raining – it’s much harder to spot imperfections and minor scratches.

Ask to see the car’s service history

Every car will need some work doing to it as it gets older. So the current owner should be able to show you receipts for work that’s been carried out. The MOT certificates can also highlight any problems that car has had.

Always make sure you see the V5C

This is the vehicle registration document and shows you the registered keeper of the vehicle. But be aware – the registered keeper doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re the legal owner. The V5C also shows any previous keepers too, so you can see how many people have owned it.

Be cautious over any modifications

Any modification, even non-standard wheels, can have an impact on your insurance costs. Always make sure you have an insurance quote before you buy the car – it could save any nasty shocks once it’s too late.

Insist on a test drive

A test drive is your only real way to make sure the car performs as it should. Don’t be afraid to take a friend who knows cars with you. Or take a member of a professional motoring organisation, like the AA or RAC. There will be a cost involved, but it could save you from more expensive costs once you own the car.

Get the second key

Keys for modern cars could cost around £100. Plus you don’t want a previous owner wandering around with a key to your car, so always insist on the second key. If they can’t provide one, then you might want to walk away. At the very least, you could ask them to reduce the price by the cost of a replacement key.

Don’t be afraid to haggle

It’s common in the market for people to try and haggle. Always try to be polite and remain realistic – the salesperson is only doing their job. If you don’t seem to be getting anywhere, don’t be afraid to walk away.

Make sure it works

Sit in the car and use all the equipment. Make sure electric windows, electric seats and all interior lights work. Check the heated rear screen, the 12v power socket and even the heater/air conditioning. Spending 5 minutes checking things before you buy could save you money later.

Remember the little things

If the car you like has locking wheel nuts, make sure the adaptor comes with the car. Not only can it be expensive to replace these, it can be difficult to find exactly the right one.

Finally, make sure you do plenty of research and you could see the benefits when you’re driving your new car.

This article is intended as general advice only which is not intended to cover specific circumstances and needs. The information in this article is also not linked to any of the products offered by Yorkshire Bank.

Yorkshire Bank is a trading name of Clydesdale Bank PLC

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