Covid 19 has certainly changed the way we do a lot of things, and it’s going to change the way you buy your next car. Whether you choose new or second hand, from a dealership or online or from Bob in the next village, there are some things you should consider when viewing the car and parting with your cash.
🚗 Stay safe – take hand gel! You have no idea how clean any of these cars are, wherever you’re viewing them. Don’t take the salesman’s (or Bob’s) word for it, be responsible for your own safety and make sure you apply hand gel before you even open the door. At the same time, don’t be afraid to ask for the car to be wiped down, or if you can do it yourself with spray and/or wipes. In these strange times no-one should object, and if they do maybe you should take your business elsewhere…
🚗 Don’t let Bob in the car. He’s fine just waiting outside and watching you, he doesn’t need to be in there with you. Social distancing still needs to be in place. This obviously makes it difficult to do a test drive, but if you think Bob is trustworthy and you want him to think you are you can come to an agreement where you leave something precious behind. Like your partner…
🚗 Be wary of 60, 70 or 420 point checks. Ask to see the list. It’s easy for a dealer/seller to say it’s had the checks but you want sight of that list. It’s important when it comes to warranties and for your peace of mind. And ask to see the previous MOT if it’s available (if not you can look it up online at GOV.UK) to see if there were any warnings or imminent failures.
🚗 Look EVERYWHERE. Open the doors and boot and check for rust. Look in the boot, under the floor cover at the spare and any tools, again checking for rust or signs of damage or repair. Feel (and if you’re bendy enough, sniff) the carpets for any indications of leaks or pooled water. Then wash your hands!!
🚗 Check that you fit. Cars are usually made with tall people in mind, so adjust the seat and the mirrors, make sure you have full visibility out of all of the windows and that you can, er-hem, reach the pedals. This might sound strange but all too often we just pop our bottom on the seat and think ‘yeah that’s comfy’. Then you get the car home and try to adjust it properly to suit and it doesn’t do all the things you need it to for comfort AND safety.
🚗 Don’t go in blind. Do a bit of research before you go. Look up on list sites the value of the car (and yours if you’re planning on Part-Exing). Armed with this knowledge you can go ready to haggle to get your best price. With dealerships, don’t be afraid to ask for the Principal (the boss, to you and me) if you don’t feel you’re getting a fair deal. With Bob, well, he’s pretty sure you’re going to haggle but you need to make it worth his while. Like paying cash rather than a transfer (but still get a receipt).
🚗 Warranties are a minefield so think of this. If you’re only offered a month warranty be suspicious. The usual is 3 months, however 6 months is what you’re looking for. But no matter what, you have rights for six months under the Consumer Credit Act (which you can read about here). Knowing your rights puts you in a strong position.
🚗 Remember – if it feels too good to be true it probably is. No salesman is going to tell you everything about a used car, but they will know everything! If a shiny car is a super bargain there’s probably something you’re not being told. You can ask. But your best bet is to make you sure do Point 4 above thoroughly!
🚗 You can buy a car online but you miss out on all the bits you want to do. If you don’t feel safe going to a dealership or garage before you part with your cash you can get someone else to do it. AA have a service where they will check out a car on your behalf. As they are impartial, you get an honest report. And be prepared to have to travel to where you bought the car should anything go wrong. The internet supplier may not have a relationship with a local garage which could end up being costly should something go wrong.
Don’t be scared! These are just a few things to keep in mind when purchasing a new or used car in these new and unusual times. You have rights as a consumer so you are somewhat protected. And let’s face it, the economy needs boosting so dealerships really should be doing everything they can to make the experience perfect for you, and make sure you’re spreading the word about how fab they are and not what an awful experience you had 🚗