New Year: New Car? | Part Two

Before Buying

You need to decide what sort of car you want:

  • Will you carry goods or people or both?
  • Diesel, petrol, or alternative fuel?
  • Do you make long or short journeys?
  • Do you have children?
  • Automatic or manual?
  • Small engine for economy or larger engine for power?
  • Two, three, four or five door?
  • Saloon, coupé, sports, estate, roadster, SUV (sports utility vehicle) or MPV (multi-purpose vehicle)?
  • Are you worried about depreciation values?

The choices can be baffling, but car magazines and reputable web sites should be able to answer any questions you have before you take the first step to a dealer to look at and test drive a car. But remember, it is not just about the car, it is about a car you can live with:

  • Is your garage big enough?
  • Confirm insurance class and area cost
  • Understand fully the deposit terms, conditions of sale, any finance agreement including interest charge, and the trade-in price on your existing car and how long that price can be maintained
  • Warranty terms - will there be restrictions?
Test Drive

According to Robinson, potential buyers should take every available opportunity to test out the car they are interested in: ‘When exploring the market for your new car, remember the financial outlay is high, so make sure you ask for a test drive - many people don't. If you’re not a car expert, take a knowledgeable friend along with you. Some manufacturers now let you test drive a car over 48 hours, or sometimes even longer.’

When you test drive, check:

  • Is the seating position comfortable? Is there enough head room?
  • Can you adjust the seat or steering wheel?
  • Check vision, especially the A-pillar, and mirrors
  • Road-handling, brakes, and steering
  • Seat belts working and comfortable?

If the car you have now tested and the advice you have had from the dealer fulfils your requirements you should feel more confident about buying the vehicle.

Buying the car

Before buying you should decide how to pay:

  • If you are able to pay up front, you can pay by either cash, cheque, bankers draft, or on your credit card
  • Finance deals let you pay by instalments, spreading the cost over a number of years after which you can trade or keep the car
  • If you do not want to buy the vehicle outright you can lease it via Personal Contract Purchase (PCP). Once the term is completed you either hand the car back to the finance company or you can pay the final settlement payment and keep the car, or use it as part exchange to buy a new car
At delivery
  • Ensure you are given full familiarisation of the vehicle controls
  • Get a copy of the pre-delivery inspection form
  • Check driver's instruction book
  • Check spare wheel and tools
  • Check for any scratches or small dents
  • Check lights, windscreen wipers, door locks, electric windows, security alarm, in-car sound system etc, are all in good working order
  • Check tax and insurance documents
  • Check invoice is completed correctly
  • Insurance cover note if required
After Buying - How The RMIF Can Help You

Of course, just buying the car is just the beginning of the journey. Robinson explains: ‘Do remember that your new car will eventually need a service and it is vital, when having a service or any form of work carried out on your car, to use a reputable garage. If the supplying garage is too far away for such jobs, a local RMIF member would be happy to support you with service.

‘A member should be able to advise you on the type of service you need, and point out potential problem areas before they arise, or become serious. In fact, whether you want to buy or sell a car or motorcycle, service or repair your existing vehicle, find an auction house, or a cherished number plate dealer, the RMIF will be able to help you.

‘If you have a complaint against an RMIF member garage, the RMIF’s National Conciliation Service should be able to help you get redress, if the problem cannot be solved in direct consultation with that member.’

To find a garage that is a member of the RMIF, visit www.rmif.co.uk and use the ‘Find a Service’ function. You will also find details of RMIF members that sell new and used cars or motorcycles, provide vehicle servicing and repair, and sell petrol.

According to Robinson, now is the time: ‘Shop around and you will be sure to find an outstanding deal on a new car for 2006. Don’t miss out.’

10 December 2005 Staff

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