YOUR SIDE OF THE ROAD
I'm doing this because I have received, and expect to get more, questions from people thinking of buying a newer -- not new -- car.
Buying secondhand is always a bit of a gamble but you can significantly reduce the risk. I know what follows is not rocket science but people so often forget the basics and pile stress on themselves. The best advice, they say, is that which is repeated. There seems to be demand for it, so here goes.
1 Get your source of finances sorted. Shop for the best credit deal. Decide on what you can afford, what you need -- NOT what you'd love. Do NOT get carried away with sales talk.
2Check newspapers, websites, magazines, local papers to see what's on offer and prices. Remember, a car shown on the internet may not be the one you view. Check out dealers in your area. This is vital. Buy the seller as much as the car -- do they have a good reputation for looking after people if something goes wrong? Ask around.
3Is the car being sold privately? By a 'friend of a friend'? Be careful. Bring someone with you who knows about cars. Pay them if you have to. Be prepared to walk away if you have the slightest doubt. Beware the 'bargain'. There is no such thing. Never even consider a car without a service history and documents. Check if finance is owed. If it is, the car can be taken from you. Many cars, including imports, can be clocked. Have their history checked.
4A few check areas: are the tyres of different makes? Look under the floor mats for (hidden) excessive carpet wear. Does the wear on pedals, seating, gear knob, steering wheel, boot rim, etc, look reasonable, excessive for the 'stated' mileage?
Look for paint overspray on windows, under the bonnet. Look under the rear boot floor cover for signs of leaking.
5Is there a warranty? Insist on six months. View the car in daylight. View at seller's home/premises -- ask for a landline if buying privately. Contact previous owner/owners. Check NCT. When is next one due? Don't buy if there is under a year to go. Don't hand over a euro until you are totally happy.