Buying a used car safely

AA Vehicle report

A man walked into a bar and sat next to a very attractive, smartly dressed woman perched on a bar stool.  “Hi there, Good Looking. How’s it going?” he asked. The woman looked him straight in the eye and said, “Listen, I’ll screw anybody, anytime, anywhere, your place, my place, it doesn’t matter. I’ve been doing it ever since I got out of school, and I just love it!”
“No kidding?” said the man, “I’m a salesman too! What dealership are you with?”

Cars are increasingly seen as a necessity not a luxury. We need the flexibility they provide to get us to and from work, transport shopping and get the kids to their activities. Using public transport is simply too time consuming, inflexible and expensive. Many of us can’t stretch to a new car, certainly not if it’s the second or third in the household, so we have to resort to the used car market. Around £40 billion (yes billion) is spent on used cars in the UK annually. After our homes this is the second largest expenditure most of us make.

The internet has made purchasing most things a breeze – from TV’s to insurance and hotels there is a wealth of product information, reliable price comparisons and relevant reviews. This has allowed us all to buy with confidence. If we end up with a dud we simply return it and get a replacement. There are plenty of car reviews out there that will tell you what to expect in terms of performance, fuel economy and available space. This makes narrowing down the make and model of car we want easy. But because every used car is essentially an individual, with its own history, reviews are no help when you have to choose between similar used cars. If you make the wrong purchasing decision then it’s very hard to get your money back or get repairs paid for by the seller.

Luckily there are some simple steps you can take to greatly reduce the risks involved in buying a used car. The AA has got together with Vcars to offer a huge selection of used cars from trusted dealerships.  In addition to an easy to use and attractive website, AA Cars offers some additional extras that you won’t find anywhere else. For 99% of the cars featured on the website you can instantly download an AA Cars History Check. This will tell you, amongst other things, if the car has outstanding finance recorded against it, how many owners it has had, if it is an insurance write off. See below for an example.

AA Vehicle report

The good news is that if you buy through AA cars and the data from the car check is found to be inaccurate you will be insured up to a value £30,000! The cars for sale are searchable by a wide set of criteria or if you know what manufacturer you are interested in and just want to browse e.g  for used fords you can just go direct to that section.

Mechanical Checks

Each dealer who has joined is responsible for performing their own checks on the mechanics of their cars. If you don’t feel confident making your own inspection you can ask the AA to perform a 206 step mechanical check for you before you commit to buying. If you use AA Cars then you will get a 10% discount on this service.

Other Help

AA cars offers some other useful information to help buyers.  Firstly they have put together a really useful checklist to help you through every stage of the process. It prompts you to think about what you need from a car, what options your chosen model might have and what the going rate is before you speak to a salesman. It also reminds you of the checks you should make on the car and its paperwork and what you should ask the salesman.  The checklist is free to download to anyone;

AA Cars also runs a help section on their website called Ask Edmund.  This is not one of those hopeless search engines that deliver old answers from unreliable sources.  It is run by an senior and experienced Motoring Expert ( President of the Automobile Association and Visiting Professor of Transport at Newcastle University) who uses his own expertise and those of trusted colleagues to provide up to date and reliable answers. So if you have a question about buying a car, legislation or which model to choose, search the Ask Edmund section for answers and if you can’t find one – just ask!