Right Driver

The beginner’s guide to car buying through private sales

The second hand car trade seems to generate more tales of woe and anger than many other businesses. One of the main reasons is that car buyers often don’t follow a few basic guidelines when buying their new vehicle. If you see an advert for a Porsche at a price that’s more suitable for a Mini, shouldn’t you be asking yourself why?

A car is an investment

One of the priorities that you should always bear in mind when buying a car is that you want the vehicle to take you from A to B for a number of years, therefore it should be roadworthy. You also might need to use your car as security if you ever have to take out finance. Car loans are available in a range of ways, including logbook loans. Most of the borrowing conditions of these specify that your vehicle should be under 10 years old, and in good working order, so that you can qualify to borrow up to 75% of the value of your car. A run down motor that looks as if it won’t even get you safely down to the end of your road can’t be used as security to raise a loan.

Read the advert carefully

Whether you’ve spotted a tempting advert online or in a local newspaper always be aware of the old adage, ‘if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.’ No one is going to sell you a high value object at a knockdown price. The website Go Compare suggests that private car sales are attractive because neither the buyer nor seller will have to pay a dealership premium. The website also advises that even before you go and visit the buyer, you should phone and ask for a few essential details.

Checking facts

There are numerous smartphone apps into which you can type in the car’s essential details. You can also check out the car’s registration number, and MOT number, with the DVLA or the tax office. These checks will show you whether the advertiser actually owns the vehicle, and whether it has previously been written off as a result of an accident. If the car doesn’t pass any of these basic checks, don’t waste your time by visiting the advertiser.

Viewing the car

If you do want to view the car, you should always look for the vehicle identification number (VIN) and verify that it is intact and that no one has tried to erase this vital ID. Make sure that the VIN is the same on the car’s registration document. If the seller can’t produce the registration or MOT documents, then make your excuses and leave.

The AA suggests that you should also ask to see a copy of the V5C registration document to discover who the legal car keeper is. If the seller is selling the vehicle on behalf of someone else, then ask why. The keeper may be overseas, which is justifiable, but this is an important question to ask.

If you carry out these essential documentation checks before you test drive the vehicle, then you’ll be aware of the car’s history and whether the sale is genuine.

Safety ratings

You can also use a car’s safety rating to determine whether it will be suitable for your requirements. This article explains the safety rating systems you might have come across before such as EuroNCAP.

Type of gearbox

You will also want to choose whether to learn to drive using a manual or automatic car as this will affect what car you can drive in the future.

Darren has owned several companies in the automotive, advertising and education industries. He has run driving theory educational websites since 2010.

Posted in Advice
Recent Posts