Tips For Buying A Used Car, From The RSA

Buying a used car? Don't regret it!

Buying a used car can be a daunting experience. At best its a large investment that can be fraught with risk. At Motorcheck we are all about reducing and removing that risk by ensuring we provide enough information for car buyers to make better informed decisions when buying a used car and, armed with that information, prompting those buyers to dig deeper and ask the questions that should be asked of any seller. We saw a great article on used car buying tips from the RSA (Road Safety Authority) recently. The article has some great independent advice so its well worth a read. It's the sort of stuff that's worth repeating again and again.  So we've condensed most of that and added our own slant below.

So here is our top tips for buying a used car:

1) Get a Car History Check done

Let's get the self promotion stuff out of the way first. It almost goes without saying that you should check the history of a used car before you part with your cash. It will not only tell you a lot about the car but the content of a Motorcheck report will also prompt you to ask some questions that you might otherwise overlook. For example - "I see the car wasn't taxed for X period, could you tell me why? Was it off the road for any reason?" If you are thinking of importing a car from the UK or buying an Irish registered car that was previously imported from the UK this is doubly important. Motorcheck can report on the history of any car registered in the UK and even if you enter the car's current Irish reg number we will automatically show you the full history from the UK within our reports. Here's a money saving tip when it comes to Car History Checks - you don't need to perform a finance check on every car you look at. Our advice would be to get the lower cost History Check or Bundle of 3 History Checks from when you are shopping around and are narrowing your choices down.  Then when you've decided to go ahead with the car the last check you need to perform before you hand over your cash is the finance check. Even if there is finance outstanding on the car we'll assist you through the finance clearance process and verify directly with the bank on your behalf when the finance has been cleared.  It's all part of the service.

2) Perform a thorough physical inspection

There are some things that a car history check will not show up like minor damage, wear and tear or electrical & mechanical faults.  So it is always a good idea to perform a thorough physical inspection on the vehicle. Make sure you perform the inspection in daylight and when it is not raining as raindrops on the bodywork can help disguise minor damage. If possible bring a friend who knows about cars. If you can afford it get the vehicle inspected by a qualified mechanic or automotive engineers. Inspections can cost anywhere from €100 to €300.

3) Ask to see the service book and previous NCT certificates

In addition to the mileage readings that may be shown on the Motorcheck car history report, you should ask the seller to show you the service book and previous NCT certs. If the pages of the service book have been stamped for each service the car has undergone they will include a date and mileage reading taken at the time of the service. Previous NCT certificates also have the mileage reading taken at the time of the test printed on them. A blank service book is at best careless and might indicate that the car has not been serviced regularly or not serviced at a reputable garage. However if the service book is completely missing we would urge caution as this might indicate a deliberate attempt to destroy the car's history.

4) Ask to see the owner logbook (Vehicle Registration Certificate)

You can perform a number of checks by inspecting the logbook. Firstly you should verify the identity of the seller and ensure their identity (name and address) matches the identity of the owner listed on the logbook. If not, the seller may not be able to pass legal title of the car to you. It could even be stolen. If the seller refuses to verify their identity, walk away. At best when the logbook does not match the sellers identity this should prompt a raft of probing questions from you until you get to the bottom of it. Remember if you are buying from a reputable dealer they will have done a temporary transfer of the vehicle to their name and this won't be shown on the logbook. But you can verify this on the Motorcheck report. The owner history should show a recent transfer to a "Dealer". The second check you should perform with the logbook is verify the VIN of the logbook against the physical VIN of the vehicle. If these match, a triple check to do on this is enter the VIN on the logbook and the physical VIN into your Motorcheck report. Your report will then verify if these numbers match the official VIN on file with the Department of Transport. This will protect you from buying a vehicle with false VIN and documentation.

5) If buying from a dealer ask about Warranty

Every dealer is obliged to provide a Warranty when selling a vehicle to a consumer. If the dealer refuses to provide a warranty, walk away. There is no such thing as a "Trade Sale" to a consumer so you will always be protected by your consumer rights but better not to have to rely on this and make a better decision at the outset.

The Competition & Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) also has some good information and advice on their website regarding your rights as a consumer and what to look out for when buying a used car.

6) Don't transact in cash and get a purchase receipt

Its not a good idea to transact in cash and certainly don't bring a large amount of cash to an isolated car park when buying a used car. If you can avoid using cash, do so. Use a bank draft. The seller can verify the draft. No matter how you carry out t transaction always get a purchase receipt. Even if you are not buying from a Dealer you can protect yourself by getting the seller to complete a purchase receipt.