The run-up to Christmas is the perfect time to buy a used car, as dealerships get quiet around the festive season, advises HPI. Savvy used car buyers will know that prices start to creep-up in January so those looking to bag a bargain should be looking to buy now. Whether buying from a dealer or from a private seller, before parting with their hard-earned money, bargian-hunters should get the vehicle checked and follow HPI’s top tips.
Senior Consumer Services Manager, Shane Teskey at HPI says, “Winter may not seem like the obvious time to buy a car, but that’s why it’s ideal for anyone looking for a bargain. As shoppers turn their thoughts to Christmas gifts, sales of cars slow down, meaning there are deals to be struck. However, used car buyers need to do some research and go in knowing exactly what they want.
“At any time of year, consumers need to be aware of the risks and take steps to protect themselves. Buying a car with outstanding finance remains the biggest risk, but 1 in 20 vehicles checked by HPI have a mileage discrepancy. Dodgy sellers can turn back the clock and add hundreds or even thousands to the price tag. Not only could buyers pay over the odds, but the vehicle could have more wear and tear than expected, or in need of repair, sooner than they thought. In addition, we find 30 cars per day reported as stolen, putting car buyers at risk of losing all their money on a car that belongs to someone else. With this in mind, we urge buyers to get any potential bargain checked at HPI, as that’s the best way to ensure it’s a dream machine with nothing to hide.”
Don’t Get into the Drivers’ Seat
The seller can smell a sale, once a buyer sits in the driver’s seat. This is where your emotions take over and you start imagine yourself driving that car, which makes it hard to think with your head. Instead of getting inside, ask the dealer to drive the car out, so you can look at it from all angles.
See the Light
Vehicles can look a lot more attractive in low-light, especially those which have a few dents here and there, so try to view the vehicle in daylight or at least under a very good light source. Take a torch. A good light source will also help you check under the bonnet to ensure chassis numbers match the car’s documents.
Do the Colours Match?
Check the bodywork to see if there is any variation in the shades – even very subtle differences – this normally tells you the car has been worked on. Ask why this is.
Check the Bodywork
Most modern cars have bolt-on panels. Check the bolts under the bonnet. If the paint is chipped on the bolts, it may mean the panels have been modified in some way. Ask why this is – it may give an indication of the car’s accident history.
Do the Air-conditioning and Sat Nav Work?
In the middle of winter, it’s easy to forget the air-conditoning, but you’ll be kicking yourself if it’s not working, once summer arrives. If the car has an integrated sat nav system, make sure it works. Make sure the disc is present, enter your home postcode and make sure it would get you there.
Take the Test
Winter with its cold, damp weather presents unique challenges when it comes to test driving a used car. However you should try to drive as you would in the summertime, take the vehicle up to speed then hit the brakes to test the ABS (when it’s safe to do so). When braking, see how straight the car comes to a stop, as pulling in one direction can indicate brake or alignment problems. Also try taking the car to a large car park and see how it handles on areas where black ice can appear.
HPI Before You Buy
Check the service history and then conduct a vehicle history check at HPI to gain a full picture of the vehicle’s status, ensuring it’s not a banger masquerading as a bargain.
Remember, the price on the sticker is only the starting price. Take the price of the defects you’ve spotted off of this price for a start.
Shane Teskey concludes, “With a little preparation, used car buyers can approach any seller ready to drive a hard bargain. Whatever their budget, we recommend conducting a vehicle check at HPI– this way buyers can reduce the risk of splashing their cash on a car that turns out to be a nightmare on wheels.”