buying your first car
Buying your first car
The essential checks all new drivers should know
Mark Barclay is an e-Commerce Manager with GSF Car Parts, a retailer of automotive parts and supplies. Here, he takes you through the basics of buying your first vehicle.
Passing your test is an exciting time, and chances are you’ll be raring to get behind the wheel of your first car as soon as you receive your full licence. But, buying a car is always a major investment, and there’s a lot to consider, so it’s very important to take your time and carry out a careful inspection before you commit.
When you’re relatively inexperienced, problems with your new ride can be tricky to spot — especially if you plan to buy a used car. So, in this blog post, we show you what to look for when buying your first vehicle, including checking the interior and exterior, going on a test drive, and which questions to ask the seller.
Visual inspection checks
Carry out a visual inspection Firstly, have a look at the exterior of the car. Check over the paint and bodywork for any scratches, dents, or discolouration. Look closely at the edges of the panelling and bonnet, and make sure they’re a close fit, with no misshapen edges, as this could indicate that the car has been damaged in an accident. The tyres should have a tread depth of at least 3mm around the entire middle three quarters of the wheel to ensure good grip and traction. Any less, and the tyres will soon need to be replaced.
Inside the car When you first get into the car, check to see if the dashboard is working correctly. When you start the engine, all of the warning lights should illuminate and then go out. If any are missing, or if any remain lit, this is a sign that something is wrong with the car.
Next, test both indicators, and make sure that the head and brake lights are working: the simplest way to do this is to start the hazard lights and then walk all the way around the car. Run both the heating and air conditioning, testing the temperature with your hand to make sure that these are in full working order. It’s also a good idea to switch on the radio or CD player.
Test drive the vehicle
Things to look out for on a test drive. Before you set off, make sure you have the right insurance cover: you’ll normally need a fully comprehensive policy that allows you to drive someone else’s car. If you’re under 25, you might need special permission from your insurer, or you could ask a friend or family member with fully comprehensive insurance to drive the car during the test drive.
Go for a long drive over a range of different types of ground, as this will help you to get a good idea of how the car handles on different types of road surface. This way, you’ll get a more accurate impression of how responsive the steering is, and how well the suspension works.
During the test drive, listen out for any noises from the suspension as you go over any small bumps or cracks in the road. Changing gears should be smooth and quiet, with no crunching noises or resistance. On a long, quiet stretch of road, you should also test the brakes, and make sure that the car doesn’t list to one side during braking.
Questions to ask the seller
Finally, spend some time asking the seller about anything you aren’t sure about. Also, ask to see the relevant documents and servicing information. They should:
- Provide a full service log and history, along with an up-to-date MOT certificate. Check that the stated mileage tallies with that on the car’s milometer. •Show you the V5C registration document. This shows who the car is registered with at the DVLA, so if the owner is unwilling to provide this there’s a chance that the car may be stolen.
- Be able to explain the origin of any scratches, dents or damage to the bodywork. This information should also tally with the service book.
- Be able to tell you the history of the vehicle, including any accidents or problems they’ve had with it. For complete peace of mind, you may want to check the history of the vehicle using a service like Experian. Using their services will flag up whether the car is still under finance, or whether it’s been stolen or written off in the past.
- Don’t allow yourself to be pressured into buying the car, and feel free to take your time. After all, it’s a big investment, and a trustworthy seller is sure to understand. It may help to bring a friend or relative along with if you think you need some support.
Take this advice on board when shopping, and you’ll have the keys to your first car before you know it!