Buying a car is among the biggest decisions you’ll make. Given that thousands of pound’s worth of machinery will be changing hands in an instant, it’s vital that you lay the groundwork, do your research, and make sure that you’ve taken every step to secure the best possible deal.
Set your Budget
Your first step should be to decide how much you can reasonably afford to pay. Don’t share this figure with the seller, as it’ll affect their pricing behaviour. But use it as a benchmark to avoid being tempted into paying over the odds.
Know the Price
Once you’ve set your budget, you can determine which car you’d like to buy. Online services like Parkers will account for the list price of the car along with the expected second-hand value. Shop around at multiple sellers and determine what a good deal looks like. Factor in the cost of upgrades and extra features.
Account for Running Costs and Depreciation
As well as the up-front cost of your new car, there will be ongoing costs. You can work out how much you’re going to be paying in fuel, road tax and new tyres by doing a little bit of research. Other factors, like depreciation, will depend on the car in question. A new Peugeot will hold its value better than the equivalent Kia or Fiat.
Inspect the Car Physically
Even during an age of social distancing, it’s vital that you’re able to personally inspect the car. Close examination may reveal defects that weren’t visible on the picture. Plus, pictures are highly vulnerable to manipulation. They can be digitally edited, or they may simply be out of date. Insisting on an inspection and a test drive will help you to avoid time-wasters and fraudsters, too.
Get a Discount
Even if you’re buying new, the list price should be viewed as a start point rather than a destination. You want to go low enough with your offer to drag the price down, but not so low as to be insulting. Be prepared to walk away if you don’t feel you’re getting a great deal. In some cases, you might have gotten home before a counter-offer comes back.
Check the MOT
If you’re buying second-hand, then check the MOT history of the vehicle to check for any persistent faults or signs of misuse. You’ll need the 11-digit number from the log book to do this, so be sure to ask for it.