9 Point Check List When Buying Your First Car
Buying your first car can be a great experience; it’s your first chance of real freedom and independence. It’s also probably going to be the most expensive thing you’ve ever purchased. It’s always advisable to go for a slightly older car. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety new drivers under the age of 25 are eight time more likely to be involved in a car accident in their first six months of driving. The newer and more expensive a car is the more it will cost to insure so it’s always advisable to get a cheaper, smaller car than you originally envisioned when you first started learning to drive.
So what do you need to look out for when buying your first car?
Before you even look at an actual car you need to think about where you’re buying it from. If you’re looking for an older car the chances are you’ll be looking at second hand garages rather than the main dealerships.
• Listen to what the salesman has to say but if they’re pressuring you into buying something or making you feel pressured in any way it’s time to walk a way
• A sign of a good dealership is how long they’ve been running, if it’s a family business that has been up and running for years it’s going to have more credibility than a car lot that’s only been up and running a few years.
• Smaller garages won’t be able to offer the level of warranties main dealerships can but you should get at least three months parts and labour. If you have to pay extra they obviously don’t have a very high level of confidence in their vehicles.
The Cars Appearance
Before you sit inside it or check the engine you need to check the exterior of the car. You need to check it’s not a cut and shut and hasn’t ever been in any serious accidents. Cut and shuts are when one car has been created by welding two damaged car together, they’re illegal and very dangerous.
• Stand back and look at the paint and body work in the natural day light, make sure the paint is the same shade across the whole car. Compare the bonnet with the side panels for colour and note where the light is catching it, are there any dents that weren’t obvious immediately?
• Check there isn’t any gap between the doors and the door frame, if they don’t match up perfectly it may be a sign the car has had some serious modifications. Another clear indication of a cut and shut is if the interior upholstery doesn’t match.
• Rust is another serious problem, especially over the wheel arch. If left untreated rust can be very dangerous and it could indicate a more serious problem.
Under the bonnet
If you’re buying your first car it’s always advisable to take someone with you who knows what they’re doing. For a small fee most garages will arrange a mechanic to meet you and larger breakdown services also offer a service where they’ll give the car a basic check.
• The side of the engine needs to be clear and dry, if there’s any liquid running down the main section and if its oil that’s a clear indication the head gasket has gone which can write off an older car.
• Another sign the head gasket has gone, or is going, is checking inside the oil cap. It needs to be clear and only have oil in it. If the head gasket has gone, the oil will have mixed with the water and create a brown sludge which you’ll see in the inside of the oil cap.
• You don’t need to be a trained mechanic to know what does and doesn’t look good in an engine. Obviously it’s not going to be immaculate but if anything looks overly worn it needs to be checked by a professional.
Jess works for Emerald Classic Car Insurance and has learnt the hard way what to look for when buying a new car.