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So you have decided to go and by a used car.
A good idea if you think you know what you are doing but buyer beware!
A reliable every day price guide,Parkers is a good place to get a reasonable idea of current market values based on auction results around the country.Remember these prices are probably ok for last month or possibly a little time before so if you can find the car you want at under "book" value your doing ok.Parkers will cover most common makes and models of car but don't expect to find rare exotics or many classic cars (they have a limited section on classics in the back).You can find out about specifications such as economy,mpg and performance 0-60,top speed,insurance group and details of engine sizes types of trim etc so you can find the exact model you are looking for.
Usually Parkers car prices start at "Trade in" price from a dealer upto fair condition,good and then excellent condition.Values are adjusted up or down on mileage,an average car will cover 12,000 miles per year, so a car with less than the average miles is often priced higher than an above average mileage car.Service history is key to backing up the true mileage of the car,old MOTs,stamped service book and plenty of receipts is always reassuring.If there is no history or if the car has had umpteen owners then walk away,you have been warned!
Never never buy a car from somebody off the street or if they drive to meet you.Usually rough cars go with rough people! Check that they have the V5 or logbook and that it has their name plus address on it too.If not then ask why not,are they trade?Don't waste your time with people who are selling their mates car,or the V5 is in the post.Its safer to buy from a dealer as he has to provide a service and is answerable to the office of fair trade.You may find buying privately is risky because you will not have the same consumer rights as buying off the trade.
Buying at auction is really for people who have experience,often cars that are not of merchantable quality are dumped into auction,dodgey trade ins or high mileage cars so take care.There are bargains to be had but it pays just to attend one or two sales just to get a feel of whats going on before taking the plunge and buying.Take your time,ask plenty of questions,see the documents and satisfy yourself that all is well.HPI checks must be done before buying at auction or anywhere else.For as little as £6,you can get a basic check done to make sure the vehicle is not stolen,written off by insurers or has outstanding finance on it.
The true "Trade" prices are found in the little black "CAP" books autotraders carry around with them,updated every month they have to subscribe to this service,strictly dealers only! I have seen these guides for sale on Ebay,last months issues so not too far out of date and probably more accurate at following buyer trends and auction values,the thermometer of real values in the car trade.
Parkers guides are good enough for most of us and provide useful information about dealers,auctions and other places to buy cars,insurance company details and they are easy to find in most newsagents for around £4.99.They are a good place to start with if you are trying to understand car values,but not the only source of information.The internet is very useful and you can find Parkers guide information online too.
If in doubt just walk away but if you have found what you are looking for then it may be worth paying for an inspection.Cheapest way to do this and if you have time,book it in for an MOT and be there when its being done.Explain to the testers you are buying the car and just want it checked over and often they will give free advice and point things out,well worth the £50 or so charge!
RAC or AA will carry out comprehensive tests for around £150-£200 or so and well worth it if you are buying something for many thousands.The report will also be useful when you decide to sell the car on in a few years time so money well spent.If the car has had accident damage or repair they will spot this,not just by eye but using the latest electronic testing equipment they can tell if a car has had a replacement panel or fresh paint at sometime.Better lose £150 and be wise before buying than getting stuck with a "lemon" that may be dangerous to drive and worthless.
When buying you car, always get a receipt and pay by bankersdraft if possible.Paying cash is ok at a dealers,trade or auction but take care buying privately.If you have reached the payment stage and have done all the necessary checks then you should be safe.
The Parkers guide is also a good bargaining tool at times,especially if the private seller has overpriced their pride and joy.Cars are often worth more to the owner than the buyers,so seeing values in print does help.
Parkers guide could save you thousands so well worth the few pounds they charge for all this priceless information!
Some great advice. I need to buy a second hand MPV soon, so this will come in handy 8^)
laura2310 12.07.2010 21:03
Very good advice. I think I must have been very lucky with my car, I know nothing about them and bought mine on eBay. It was the second car I saw and mainly bought it because it was a pretty colour, lol! My friend told me I got a bargain tho, so I'm happy! x
LawrenceP 10.07.2010 14:07
Good info here. The finance company I used to buy my current car were using the "trade" book and weren't prepared to finance me because the car was "too expensive". Once I put them right about retail prices they were happy to go ahead. I wonder where they got their book from and I also wonder how they ever got business using this. One word of advice, when you finish a sentence put a space after every full stop, this includes punctuation marks within a sentence. Not doing this distracts the reader. Cheers.