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5 Things Everyone Should Do Before Buying A Car

Buying a car can be a daunting task, so we’ve put together 5 things that everyone should do to make the buying process easier, and to make sure you end up buying the right car. Let’s jump in.

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1. Research the car and find common issues

You want to know exactly what can go wrong with every aspect of the car. Let me give you some examples…

When I bought a Lexus IS200, one of the common issues was the front ball joints going because it’s a heavy car. There were a few issues like rust, sticking brakes and warped discs. Oh, and a clutch issue.

Before I went to look at the car I talked to my mechanic and costed everything up. I had a think about whether I could fix these things myself, and how much time it would take – because as you all know, time is money. I could then also create a checklist, so when I did go to see the car, I could look like an absolute tool with a pen and paper ticking boxes.

Another thing to do on this note, is to look at what servicing is required at what mileage and compare that to the car you’re looking at, plus how much the servicing is. If a car has slightly fewer miles than another and is therefore slightly more expensive, it could be that the higher mileage example has just had an expensive service which the lower mileage is still waiting for.

Let’s say you’re looking at a 50,000-mile car and a 60,000-mile car. The 60k has had a full service, belts, water pump, all that kinda stuff worth maybe a grand or so, at least. That’s an expense that the more expensive, lower mile car is still going to incur. I know which I’d rather buy.

2. Research the dealership.

Is it independent? Is it part of a chain? This will have an effect on what level of service you get, but also on the price of a car. If you go to a respected chain then you’re paying extra for the vehicle undergo a trusted check and to have maybe a warranty or a company with the finances to help you if something goes wrong and it’s their fault.

You don’t get this with an independent.

On top of that, check reviews. There are some real horror stories out there.

I recently bought an Audi, it was cheap for a project that’s coming up on GTN, and I turned up expecting a dealer. It was a big puddle in the middle of some mud. I thought I was going to be killed. It turned out to be okay, but I definitely wouldn’t be able to trust these guys if something did go wrong – which it did… on the way home…

3. How are you going to pay for the car?

Work out exactly how much you want to pay whether it be a monthly finance deal or straight-up cash. Paying for it in cash will more than likely end up with you having a better deal, but there is always a bargain to be made.

Do some research online and see what other cars are going for. See what finance companies will give you and even ring them up and give them some rough figures if you can, but don’t allow them to do a credit check just yet, that will affect your credit score. You may find that there are special deals out there for you based on your personal circumstances, such as Motability agreements.

Get a maximum price in mind, then head to the dealer and start lower. They will always come in at a higher price, so work up to your maximum if you need to.

Quick tip for you. If there’s some toing and froing, go silent when they give you a number that’s too high. The silence is awkward, and they’ll soon be talking to their manager to drop the price even further. Trust me, it works.

4. Know the value of your existing car

If you’re trading in your existing car, make sure you know how much it’s worth. Take a look at what they’re selling for with similar mileages, or use a website like who will give you an over-the-internet valuation. Obviously, if your car is damaged, the value will drop, so try to be a bit sneaky and be very vague if there’s anything wrong with it.

Remember, you have no mechanical knowledge, you’re just John from accounting who hasn’t driven enough cars to realise that you’ve got a boost leak.

Use the value of the car as leverage to get more money off the new car. They can only drop the price of the car you’re buying buy a certain amount, but they can increase the value of yours to give you more money off.

5. Know exactly what you want

Make a list of everything you do with your car. Do you go on holiday? Need a load of storage for luggage or a dog or two? Maybe you like a spirited drive on the weekends so you’re after something with a bit more power or maybe a bit lighter. Make a list of all these things and check them off as you look at cars on the internet. Somewhere, though, you’re going to have to make a sacrifice. So keep that in mind.

If you’re looking at an upgrade, maybe you’re going from a hatch to a powerful RWD car, don’t be afraid to buy an experience day or ask someone with a similar car if you can have a go and see if you like it. The last thing you want to do is drive off with no experience and let the power catch you off guard.

So there you go, five things you should do before looking to buy a car. Let us know below if you’d add anything else and if you’ve had any good luck with our advice!

Alex Harrington

Alex started racing at a young age so certainly knows his way around a car and a track. He can just about put a sentence together too, which helps. He has a great interest in the latest models, but would throw all of his money at a rusty old French classic and a 300ZX. Contact: [email protected]

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