Tips for buying a car

Posted on May 07, 2015 at 10:00 PM

The purchase of a new or used car can be a very daunting experience.

The purchase of a new or used car can be a very daunting experience.
How will I know if I’m actually getting a good deal?
Can I really trust that “too good to be true” offer from the used car salesman?
What are the things I need to look for?
What documentation is important?
Where should I buy? Private, Auction, Dealership, Import?
What kind of questions should I be asking the seller?
In this article we will try to cover all you need to know when buying a car to help with all the queries you may have.

Where should I buy a car?
Franchised Dealer
A franchised dealer can sell a car on behalf of a known car manufacturer and typically will sell both new and used cars. This is usually the most expensive way to purchase a new car but on the upside you are guaranteed a very high quality service.

Independent Dealer
There are lots of Independent car dealers around the country. They are well covered under consumer law and Independent dealers will have a good selection of used as well as new cars. Dealers selling used cars will typically provide you with paperwork detailing the car’s history, which you often will not get in a private car sale. You may even get a guarantee with the car that will cover the repair cost of any major fault which happens within the first year of ownership.
Points to remember:

  • Ensure to take your time when looking over a car. Give the car the full run through and if possible bring someone with you who has knowledge of cars and what to look out for when inspecting a used car. 
  • Remember that salespeople always work on commission so they will have built this into their price and will have a higher asking price than what they realistically expect to achieve. Therefore don’t be afraid to bargain with them to get a lower price.

3. Auction
Auctions are becoming increasingly popular in Ireland. Cars are typically sold up to 30% cheaper than cars sold privately or in dealerships. The downside to this is that cars are sold as they are and they do not come with a guarantee so that the dealer is not responsible for any problems with the car once it has been sold.

You need to be accustomed to the process when attending an auction, where possible bring a friend with you who knows how auctions work.
If you want to participate in an auction you need to get a bidding number before the start of the auction which costs 250 Euro. This encourages only genuine purchasers to take part in the auction. The cars are passed through the auction before the bidding begins. As the auctioneer calls out cost figures for each car, if you are interested in a particular amount you put up your hand.
At the end of the auction if you were the highest bidder you raise up your bidding number and you’ve bought the car. All auctions also charge the purchaser a buyer’s premium, The lowest fee is typically about 60 Euro.


What are your rights when you buy a car?

According to the National Consumer Agency, a motor vehicle must be in a roadworthy condition when sold to a consumer via a trader. Under the Sale of Goods and Supply services act, 1980, it is an offence to sell a car which is not roadworthy. This is also an offence under Road traffic Legislation and is enforced by the guards.  It is also illegal for a seller to giver misleading information in respect to any aspect of the car, including it’s history and car specification.
You should always check if the seller has a TAN number ( Transaction Authentication Number), or a VAT number.
Unfortunately, Consumer protection legislation does not cover private sales. Therefore, if you are buying a car from a private seller you should ask as many questions as possible and get as much car documentation as possible before you complete the sale. If you document the questions and answers and get the seller to sign the document, you can use this in the event that you need to take legal action if the seller gave you misleading information.

What kind of Vehicle Documentation should you look for?
If you are purchasing an Irish car, the most important document to ask for is the VRC – Vehicle Registration Certificate If it is a UK import you must get the equivalent V5C. These are the car ownership documents. It is very important that the person selling you the car is the same as the corresponding name on the VRC or the V5C. It is therefore important to see their proof of Identity. The VRC has a 10 digit number on the top right hand corner of the first page of the document. You should check that these numbers match the ones you get when doing your Cartell Car check. If they do not match it could mean that the document has been forged which implies that you are dealing with a stolen vehicle.

Test Driving the car
You should always test drive the car.

  • If you notice any strange knocking or whining sounds, get these checked out by a mechanic. You do not want to purchase a car that requires lengthy mechanical repairs.
  • Check that the headlights, brake lights and reverse lights work before you drive the car. Also test the car horn and indicators.
  • Make sure that all the controls ( heater, wipers etc ) are working. Examine the windscreen for cracks.
  • Check the steering, clutch and brakes. Replacement of a clutch can be a big outlay.
  • Check the tyre condition. Also check the wheel arch width - put your hand into the wheel arch and check the space between the arch and the tyre  - if they do not match this could indicate that the car has been in an accident.
  • A new tyre normally has a tread depth of 8mm which should be measured from the lowest point of the groove to the tyre tread surface. Check the tyres to see how they compare with this.

To conclude;
Typical questions that you should ask when buying a car;

  • When did you buy the car?
  • Why is the car for sale?
  • Is it possible for me to see the log book?
  • Can I see your ID and is it on the log book?
  • Has the car ever been involved in a car crash?
  • When was the last service done and by which garage?
  • What is the car mileage?

We hope that this blog will help you with your car purchasing decisions.

Good luck and happy shopping from !



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