First of all, before you start looking for a vehicle to buy, you should establish what you want from the vehicle and what you want the vehicle for - will you be buying the vehicle for the aesthetics or the practicality of it?
Before buying a vehicle, take the following questions into consideration...
DO YOU WANT A NEW OR USED VEHICLE?
- If you are buying a new vehicle you should shop on price - every new vehicle will have similar guarantees and warranty wherever you buy it.
- To validate the warranty you must have the car serviced to the manufacturer's specification and at the specified time and mileage intervals.
NOTE - independent garages are generally cheaper for repairs and maintenance. Due to the Block Exemption Regulation they will not invalidate your warranty, therefore you are now not obliged to return your vehicle to the dealer during the warranty period.
- When buying a used vehicle you should always buy it locally, this is because if you incur any problems with the vehicle you should be able to easily access the previous owner.
- If the vehicle is sold with service & maintenance history, ensure that the paperwork is present before buying - don't give the seller the option to ‘send the paper work later'. Try to obtain the manufacturer's guide and service book also.
- Ensure the spare wheel and jack is present when purchasing the vehicle, these are often removed from the vehicle during the valet and sometimes not returned to the vehicle. Ask for the locking wheel nut key as well.
- Always ask if the car has been in any accidents, the seller is not required to disclose this information if you don't ask.
- Try to get a spare key for the vehicle and the security & radio code.
- Find out if the vehicle has been HPI checked - you don't want any outstanding payments from the previous owner(s) moved into your name.
- The best time to buy a newer used car is when it is about 3 years old, this is because the price would have significantly reduced from its initial bought price, yet it would have still been maintained correctly to validate its warranty.
IS IT FOR SOCIAL OR BUSINESS USE?
Whether you are using it for social or business, you may use the vehicle for commuting into London. As of the 3rd January 2012 the Low Emission Zone (LEZ) criteria will change, if your vehicle is not compliant with the criteria you will face a penalty charge every time you enter the zone - the emissions criteria is based on the age, weight and type of vehicle - usually only commercial & light commercial vehicles are affected. Click here to find out if the vehicle you're considering is compliant.
DO YOU WANT A VAN OR CAR?
If you will use the vehicle for a trade you will most likely require a van or a van derived car i.e. the Citroen Berlingo Multispace. This vehicle is ideal for people who may need the boot space for their business but alternatively need seats for passengers from time to time. On the other hand, for someone who will only use the vehicle for social use and possibly commuting you'll most likely require a car.
HOW MANY DOORS & SEATS DO YOU REQUIRE?
If you have children or are thinking of starting a family you'll ideally want a vehicle that has 5 or more seats and for easier accessibility a 5 door vehicle would be more suitable.
DO YOU NEED BOOT SPACE?
Boot space can be essential for a family, for someone who has pets or someone who regularly carries a load, ensure to take this into consideration before you buy a vehicle.
WHAT TRANSMISSION DO YOU WANT - MANUAL OR AUTOMATIC?
If you learnt to drive in a manual vehicle it is advisable that your first vehicle is manual and that you drive a manual for at least a year after passing, this is so you are completely competent and gain more experience driving a manual before changing to its automatic counterpart.
WHAT ENGINE SIZE?
If you're a young driver and/or have only recently passed your test, a vehicle with a small engine would be advisable as your insurance will be cheaper - consider adding your parent/guardian/partner, who already drives, to the policy as a ‘named driver' as this can drastically reduce the cost of your insurance. However, before adding anyone as a ‘named driver' to the policy you should inform the insurance provider, as you may now not qualify for a no claims discount.
WHAT FUEL TYPE?
There are a few different options - petrol, diesel, LPG, etc. If your predicted annual mileage is high this could influence the type of fuel you choose. For those who do high mileage you may consider having a dual conversion LPG vehicle which gives you the option of using either petrol or LPG, as LPG costs on average half the price of petrol & diesel, this can drastically reduce your annual fuel bill.
ADVICE ON BUYING THE VEHICLE
Before buying a vehicle once you have decided on a make and model you like, you should look at between 5 and 10 different examples of this vehicle which are in the same price range. This will give you an idea of what a good example of that particular vehicle is.
If you are ever in doubt about a cars condition you should have a general check over carried out by an independent garage before buying. They will give you impartial advice, and the seller should be more than happy to allow another garage to look over the vehicle if it is in good condition. Although a vehicle may have an MOT certificate this does not certify that the vehicle is in good condition, this is ONLY a sign that the vehicle was roadworthy AT THE TIME OF TESTING.
It is advisable to buy from a dealer with a premises over a home trader, the reasoning behind this is that if a dealer has a premises and possibly a website they are less likely to move out of your area within a short period of time, thus making them more reliable to contact if there was a problem with the vehicle.
TIP - consider buying a similar vehicle to that you learnt to drive in, most makes of vehicles will have the same gadgets and feel when driving them.