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What to ask when buying a car? watch

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    (Original post by Jodly.X)
    Im a girl and dont really have a man in my life who knows much about cars, and i dont know much either
    but with passing my test im wanting to buy a car either from a garage or someone selling one from home.
    im trying to compile a list of questions to ask when going to look at the car, and what are the general things i should look at/ listen out for when viewing a car?
    Don't tell them how much you have to spend as this is what they will get you paying. When you sit down, be a bit cheeky with the price...don't insult them with a silly offer but see if you can get some money off the list price.

    If its a French(I say this because its based on my past experience) car with a sunroof... check the footwells on both the drivers and passengers side for dampness, I've had and known people to buy a car, only to find a huge puddle in it a couple weeks later!

    Look at http://www.parkers.co.uk/cars/prices/# for a rough guide on what you should be paying

    http://www.whatcar.com/ is also good
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    (Original post by Nuffles)
    Only people who like old cars would know to check this :p: I have between 2 and 3 inches of totally free play in my steering wheel :awesome:

    Bad things I've heard about Ka's - Steering has a propensity to fail quite suddenly. Brakes are also known to fail, although not as many cases of this as the steering. Power steering boxes are also known to fail quite badly and cost an extortionate amount to get sorted. Rust in the wheel arches and down the sills (the bits of metal going down each side of the car under the doors) are known to rust and are a very structural part of the car.

    Apart from the bad stuff, general things like check all the gizmos work like electric windows and mirrors. Negotiate on price accordingly for each thing not working. Check the tyres to see that there's even wear over the surface of the tyre, eg the outside of the tyre tread should be as deep as the inside. If this is a problem then the car need's its tracking done which can be expensive depending on garage. Also factor in new tyres to replace the badly worn ones, about £40 each. If the middle of the tread is less deep than each edge, or vice versa, then the tyre pressures are wrong and you need to get them sorted (more or less air in the tyres, pretty much no cost) but you may need new tyres if the wear is bad, and again negotiate price according to how many tyres this affects.

    Go to a car park, put it into reverse and rocket backwards as fast as you can. If it pops out of reverse then the linkage or gears are worn, which can be expensive to fix but is easy to live with (I live with it fine on mine). Find a steep hill and go down it in first gear slowly and see if it pops out. Same as reverse to fix it. Check for crunching going into second gear either from first or third gear, which is a sign of the synchromesh going which will be expensive to fix. Mine crunches when cold but is fine when warmed up so I'm not bothered. Move into second gear, redline it and change into fifth and put your foot down. If the engine revs with the clutch up in fifth then the clutch is on the way out and you'll need a new one soon. If the engine bogs down and almost stalls then the clutch is fine.

    From 30mph do an emergency stop. The car should stop in a straight line quickly. If it swerves to one side under braking then it could simply be bad brake pads or it could indicate that it's been written off in the past and rebuilt. If it swerves to one side violently then walk away, it's not worth it. If it's only a little then it's probably brake pads or discs, not too expensive to replace but again good for bringing down the price.

    Find some speed bumps to drive over. Is there any bumping, knocking or scraping as you go over them? Ask the seller about it, it might be as simple as a new shock absorber if you do hear funny sounds or it might be something expensive like suspension problems or drive-train issues. Again, walk away if it's bad.

    Hope that's a bit of help there
    Thanks thats all very helpful
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    (Original post by Jodly.X)
    Im a girl and dont really have a man in my life who knows much about cars, and i dont know much either
    but with passing my test im wanting to buy a car either from a garage or someone selling one from home.
    im trying to compile a list of questions to ask when going to look at the car, and what are the general things i should look at/ listen out for when viewing a car?
    buy from a garage because they are under legal obligation to sell you a full working car, you should also do a txt check and ask for a test drive while driving it check the tracking is good, it isn't overheating, gears are changing smoothly and all the electrics are working fine.
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    (Original post by muckie)
    buy from a garage because they are under legal obligation to sell you a full working car, you should also do a txt check and ask for a test drive while driving it check the tracking is good, it isn't overheating, gears are changing smoothly and all the electrics are working fine.
    Except that garages are more likely to bend you over and do you up the bum in terms of what you pay. Not all forecourt cars come with a warranty and if you don't check the car properly before you buy then you can't really do anything if something goes wrong unless they explicitly told you something that was untrue.

    You're much more likely to get a good deal by researching and teaching yourself what's good and bad. In your ignorance a car salesman can make you buy pretty much anything.
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    (Original post by Nuffles)
    Except that garages are more likely to bend you over and do you up the bum in terms of what you pay. Not all forecourt cars come with a warranty and if you don't check the car properly before you buy then you can't really do anything if something goes wrong unless they explicitly told you something that was untrue.

    You're much more likely to get a good deal by researching and teaching yourself what's good and bad. In your ignorance a car salesman can make you buy pretty much anything.

    Agreed. Garages are not necessarily the best option by any means - you can get perfectly good cars for much less than a garage would charge on things like ebay (I (and my dad) have bought several cars through ebay). So long as you go and check them out before you buy, taking in mind the many good tips that have been mentioned on here, you should be fine.
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    (Original post by Nuffles)
    Except that garages are more likely to bend you over and do you up the bum in terms of what you pay. Not all forecourt cars come with a warranty and if you don't check the car properly before you buy then you can't really do anything if something goes wrong unless they explicitly told you something that was untrue.

    You're much more likely to get a good deal by researching and teaching yourself what's good and bad. In your ignorance a car salesman can make you buy pretty much anything.
    Exactly! I bought a car from a garage with a leaky sunroof... it was such an obvious leak that a garage would have known about it... I being the the total noob I was at the time, went in with the false idea that garages couldn't screw you over like that! It was all getting repaired under warranty but as soon as the warranty run out and they quoted me £500 to fix it. I didn't take that, and just traded it in for a new car without a sunroof!
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    (Original post by Charlski)
    Agreed. Garages are not necessarily the best option by any means - you can get perfectly good cars for much less than a garage would charge on things like ebay (I (and my dad) have bought several cars through ebay). So long as you go and check them out before you buy, taking in mind the many good tips that have been mentioned on here, you should be fine.
    +1


    When finding my car last year we knew that we would be buying privately, but still went round a few garages and dealers just so I could sit in a variety of cars and find one that I liked, and more importantly fitted comfortably in (I'm quite a tall guy) :p: ... we never intended to buy from a garage, but we just acted as if we were interested and took all the sales talk with a smile.

    Sat in an 54' Plate Astra Club with ~45k on the clock in one forecourt and the guy tried to sell it to me for £6000! Going rate privately for these was around £3500, and when I mentioned this to him he laughed it off and said that I would never find one for that money, even privately. Apparently all the very legit-looking ads on Autotrader were scams and supposedly £5500 would be the cheapest anywhere that I would find a base-spec one!

    A week later I got a year-newer, higher-spec model in much better condition that had done 60k miles... for under £4000.
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    Some great advice in this thread. I don't think anyone has mentioned this though: make sure the car is cold when you view it and start it for the first time. If it seems like the car has been warmed up just before you've come to view it, serious questions have to be raised.
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    (Original post by FXX)
    Some great advice in this thread. I don't think anyone has mentioned this though: make sure the car is cold when you view it and start it for the first time. If it seems like the car has been warmed up just before you've come to view it, serious questions have to be raised.
    I mentioned it insofar as going into second crunches when the gearbox oil is cold in my car but not other than that. Extending from that, a warm engine and gearbox can cover problems that are rising. As I said, mine crunches into second which means the synchromesh is on it's way out but it's hidden by warm oil. Second gear is usually the one that goes because it's shifted into and out of the most in both directions. When a cold engine starts, the smoke from the exhaust can tell you a lot about the condition of the engine. Hot engines often don't smoke and hide this. Some black smoke from a cold diesel engine is normal but white smoke can mean a head gasket on the way out which is obviously very expensive. A petrol engine shouldn't smoke black at all, with only a puff of white or grey smoke on start up and a small amount of grey smoke continuing for a while on cold mornings. There should be no smoke other than that from a petrol engine and thick white smoke is a very bad sign.

    You may get some tapping or clicking from a cold engine on startup idle from the rockers, especially diesel, but it should go away as soon as the engine warms up and if it doesn't then there may be more problems ahead.
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    Also, some lesser important things that will still save you some hassle/expense later on...


    Does the radio have a radio code? Is this code written down somewhere safe, like in the back of the handbook?

    Does the car come with two keys? Most (if all) cars come new with two, so where has the other one gone? Replacement keys can be expensive, especially with all the fancy immobiliser chips and stuff that you have to pay to be programmed... I don't know about the Ka, but a new key for my car cost about £100, and that was having it done by the cheapest place I could find (a dealer would have been £130+). Also, some insurers might get a bit iffy about this if you ever claimed for a theft.

    And talking of immobilisers... are there any codes, etc, that you need for a Ka? My car has a 4-digit security code that a mechanic will always asks for if running diagnostics or making changes to the car computer stuff... if I turned up to a garage needing something done that needed that code and I didn't have it, I would either have to pay to have it recovered from the manufacturer's records or have some new electronics modules with new codes fitted.
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    (Original post by Nuffles)
    I mentioned it insofar as going into second crunches when the gearbox oil is cold in my car but not other than that. Extending from that, a warm engine and gearbox can cover problems that are rising. As I said, mine crunches into second which means the synchromesh is on it's way out but it's hidden by warm oil. Second gear is usually the one that goes because it's shifted into and out of the most in both directions. When a cold engine starts, the smoke from the exhaust can tell you a lot about the condition of the engine. Hot engines often don't smoke and hide this. Some black smoke from a cold diesel engine is normal but white smoke can mean a head gasket on the way out which is obviously very expensive. A petrol engine shouldn't smoke black at all, with only a puff of white or grey smoke on start up and a small amount of grey smoke continuing for a while on cold mornings. There should be no smoke other than that from a petrol engine and thick white smoke is a very bad sign.

    You may get some tapping or clicking from a cold engine on startup idle from the rockers, especially diesel, but it should go away as soon as the engine warms up and if it doesn't then there may be more problems ahead.
    White smoke from a Diesel when cold isn't that abnormal, particularly on older ones. Its just the warm up cylce. On the newer common rail ones though its a problem.

    Does someone who knows what they're doing want to tie all this info together into a logical order in one post, and I'll what it up at the top of the forum as an advice section?
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    • Does it have a Service History? Can you provide the record? (It should have stamps for all the services up to it's current mileage).
    • Tax and MOT - does it have any and how long for? (Though this should be in the advert).
    • Has it been involved in an accident that you know of? (HPI check will confirm as long as the car was written off, it could have been in an unrecorded accident however this is unlikely).
    • Is it mechanically sound? (Lights on the dashboard should be checked, plus you should have someone with car knowledge look around the engine and underneath. You should also have a test drive for noises and just general testing of comfort ETC).
    • What are you selling it for? (Seller might be having problems with the car. Check to see if they have a good reason for selling).
    • Can you have it inspected by AA/RAC? (If seller says no then walk away).
    • What is the price - can we have a deal? (Some sellers are willing to knock money off if you have the cash in hand).
    • Is there any finance outstanding on it? (HPI can confirm).
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    What if the car has a part service history but current MOT, is that ok?
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    (Original post by Charlski)
    They might actually - I did. However, definitely check your insurance policy if you already have one on something to see if you ARE covered to do that.

    But yep, I agree with Matt7 - test drives are hugely important.
    Can I ask who you were/are insured when you were insured to drive other cars? Been desperately searching for someone who'll offer this to someone <21, but the only previous insurer - bell - recently took it off
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    (Original post by Orichalon)
    Can I ask who you were/are insured when you were insured to drive other cars? Been desperately searching for someone who'll offer this to someone <21, but the only previous insurer - bell - recently took it off

    Well to be honest, I own an Austin 7 and am down as the policy holder on the club insurance (£88 PA ), which includes it for policy holders of any age. Same with the insurance on my A30. I'm afraid I'm not really very clued up on other insurance companies and their policies.
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    (Original post by Charlski)
    Well to be honest, I own an Austin 7 and am down as the policy holder on the club insurance (£88 PA ), which includes it for policy holders of any age. Same with the insurance on my A30. I'm afraid I'm not really very clued up on other insurance companies and their policies.
    Ah ok

    An Austin 7 is an awesome car to have though
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    (Original post by Hooper)
    • Does it have a Service History? Can you provide the record? (It should have stamps for all the services up to it's current mileage).
    • Tax and MOT - does it have any and how long for? (Though this should be in the advert).
    • Has it been involved in an accident that you know of? (HPI check will confirm as long as the car was written off, it could have been in an unrecorded accident however this is unlikely).
    • Is it mechanically sound? (Lights on the dashboard should be checked, plus you should have someone with car knowledge look around the engine and underneath. You should also have a test drive for noises and just general testing of comfort ETC).
    • What are you selling it for? (Seller might be having problems with the car. Check to see if they have a good reason for selling).
    • Can you have it inspected by AA/RAC? (If seller says no then walk away).
    • What is the price - can we have a deal? (Some sellers are willing to knock money off if you have the cash in hand).
    • Is there any finance outstanding on it? (HPI can confirm).
    Also, ask about any existing warranty. If there is any, what are the terms?
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    • Does it have a Service History? Can you provide the record? (It should have stamps for all the services up to it's current mileage). Is there any other history with it? Invoices, receipts etc
    • Tax and MOT - does it have any and how long for? (Though this should be in the advert). A short amount of MOT remaining can be hiding problems.
    • Warranty - One to consider on newer cars which may have manufacturers warrantly left or cars from dealers. How much is there left? What does it cover? Does the extended warranrty cover anything useful? (Often expensive stuff is excluded!)
    • Has it been involved in an accident that you know of? (HPI check will confirm as long as the car was written off, it could have been in an unrecorded accident however this is unlikely). A HPI will also confirm if its been reported stolen. Don't buy without it.
    • Is it mechanically sound? (Lights on the dashboard should be checked, plus you should have someone with car knowledge look around the engine and underneath. You should also have a test drive for noises and just general testing of comfort ETC).
    • Why are you selling? (Seller might be having problems with the car. Check to see if they have a good reason for selling).
    • Can you have it inspected by AA/RAC? (If seller says no then walk away).
    • What is the price - can we have a deal? (Some sellers are willing to knock money off if you have the cash in hand).
    • Is there any finance outstanding on it? (HPI can confirm).


    Remember, if the seller looks shifty or uncomfortable when pressed about details, is reluctant to answer questions or you have any suspicions you can walk away from the sale at any time!
    Edited a little, we think that covers pretty much?
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    (Original post by Minardi)
    Edited a little, we think that covers pretty much?

    To be honest I think it's a bit limited. A fair number of people who don't have any expertise themselves either don't know someone who knows what they're looking at with cars or (as we're students) aren't going to fork out for an AA inspection of every car they look at. I personally think that if this is going to be refined into a proper reference thread, perhaps a few of the easier to spot mechanical failings should be pointed out, even if just as a preliminary - there are some things which it would take anyone 30 seconds to find, such as oil in the radiator. I just feel that it would be worth including things like that partly so that people could maybe save money if they do decide to get an AA check by ensuring nothing obvious is wrong with it first.
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    (Original post by Charlski)
    To be honest I think it's a bit limited. A fair number of people who don't have any expertise themselves either don't know someone who knows what they're looking at with cars or (as we're students) aren't going to fork out for an AA inspection of the car. I personally think that if this is going to be refined into a proper reference thread, perhaps a few of the easier to spot mechanical failings should be pointed out.
    I agree there, but its a start. I want to get some more of this kind of stuff refinded into Wiki articles, but I haven't got the time to write it all myself! I'm just trying to sort stuff bit by bit...
 
 
 
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