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  Category: Articles » Finance » Article

Buying a second hand car? 19 Tips to avoid getting your fingers burnt.

By Michael Challiner

•  Do your homework. Read up about the model of car you're thinking about. Will it perform as you will want? Be aware of any known mechanical problems with that particular model and remember to check them out when you take it for a test drive (see tip 15).

•  Look up the current second hand values for the car. Try starting at www.what car .com. Also get some of the second hand car magazines and your local paper. Check out the prices being asked for similar cars.

•  Car Insurance is always a major expense. How much will that car cost you to insure? It's easy to find out on the Internet – get a few quotes. It'll just take you ten minutes.

•  Also check out the car's other running costs. We're talking about fuel consumption, servicing and repair bills. Again www.what car .com can help. Ensure you can afford to run the car!

•  When you see the car insist on seeing its registration documents and, if the car is more than 3 years old, its MOT certificate. The registration documents will also show the cars' VIN number. Carefully check that the documents tally.

•  Always ensure that the person selling the car does actually own it.

•  And always see the car at the seller's own home or business premises. Then ensure that the address on the Registration Document is at the same as the address - if not ask why. You should be suspicious.

•  Examine the Road Tax disc. Is it still valid? Does the vehicle registration number on the disc match the Registration Document and the number on its number plate?

•  Ask to view the cars' Servicing Record. Usually, this will also show the cars' VIN number and details of the first owner. If the Service record is not available, has the owner kept any of the service or repair bills? Ask to see them.

•  Now look under the bonnet and look for the VIN Number (it could also be on a plate on the inside edge of one of the front doors). Compare the VIN number with the number on the Registration Document and check that the number stamped on the car has not been interfered with. This will help to ensure that the car hasn't had its identity changed.

•  It's best to take a friend with you who knows' about cars – not only to look at the car but also to be a witness for what is said and anything that is agreed.

•  Don't pay for a car on your first visit and try not to be pushed into putting down a deposit. You need to carry out some checks before you part with any money (see 17 below).

•  Ask the owner whether the car is subject to any outstanding finance. Take notes of what he/she says. Then, when you get home, get on the Internet and check out the information provided with RAC Vehicle Status Check. Go to the RAC' web site. Click on "Car Buying" and then "Vehicle Status Checks". The Status Check will cost you £24.99 but it will confirm whether the car has outstanding finance. Best to be safe – without this Check you could find out that a finance company actually has a prior title to the car.

•  Carefully examine the car in good daylight. Look carefully for signs of repairs and accident damage. If you have followed our advice and obtained a Vehicle Status Check, that Check will also notify you if the car has previously been "written off".

•  Try to ensure that the car hasn't been "clocked". (Clocked means that the mileometer has been wound back to show a lower mileage.) The average annual mileage is around 12,000. Be wary if the wear and tear on the car looks greater than you would expect from the mileage. The wear on the driver's pedals is usually a give away. Then ask when the tyres were last replaced. Does the wear on the tyres look about right?

•  Insist on test-driving the car for at least 10/15 miles. You need to get the car fully warmed up and drive it in varying conditions. Incidentally, don't forget to ensure you are insured to drive it! Don't assume that your own insurance policy will cover you for driving someone else's car. Check your policy before you leave home. If the seller claims that his insurance covers you, ask to see his policy – a bit of a pain but better safe than sorry!

•  Has the car ticked all the boxes so far? Then spend some more money get it professionally inspected.

•  Never pay any money until you have seen the results of the RAC Vehicle Status Check. And even then, avoid paying any money until the car is handed over to you complete with its Documents and tax disc. Always get a written receipt for any money you pay and ensure that it includes the sellers name and address.

•  Last of all, make sure you're insured from the moment you drive the car away. The Police can now impound, and ultimately scrap, your car if you're driving it without insurance or road tax! If the car has not got Road Tax disc, call in at the Post Office on the way home and get one. You'll need to show them a valid insurance cover note for the car and the cars up to date MOT Certificate.

If you've followed all these steps you'll have done just about everything possible to ensure the car is legally yours at the right price, and you haven't bought a scrapper!

About the Author

Brokers Online are a large uk finance website who offer life insurance cover and many UK financial services including car insurance quotes. We also provide an exclusive finance blog designed to help you stay upto date with uk finance

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