So you’re in the market for a new car. Whether you’ve already set your eyes on your dream wagon or you need some extra inspiration to find the right vehicle for you, the dealership is a great place to start.
Dealers can offer all the latest advice and support to help you choose a car that suits everything from driving experience to recommendations based on your preferences.
But before you sign on the dotted line, here are 7 essential questions you need to ask at the dealership:
1. Is this car within my budget?
Before you rock up at the dealership, it’s highly recommended that you look at your finances. Work out how much you spend each month on rent/mortgage, utilities, entertainment and general living expenses. Then, get a rough idea of how much you expect to pay on fuel (whether that’s petrol/diesel or electricity), road tax, MOT, insurance and servicing/repairs.
Having a good insight into what you can afford ahead of the dealership will ensure you don’t agree to buying a vehicle that is beyond your means.
Some dealers may ask you for proof of income to see if the vehicle is a viable option for you – so make sure you take a bank statement along with you.
But, if you’re like the majority of other Brits, you will likely opt for a car loan to finance your purchase. While it may seem that your best bet is going with what the dealer offers you, it’s better to compare deals online ahead of your arrival at the forecourt.
Bear in mind you can use car finance at any reputable dealer.
If you have been rejected for car finance in the past, check out poor or bad credit car finance to see what suitable deals are available for your circumstances.
2. What does the warranty cover?
If you’re purchasing a new or nearly new car, the vehicle you want likely comes with a warranty. So if the car needs repairing or there is a problem with it, the warranty covers the cost of the bill.
Some warranties will cover parts, such as engine, gearbox, brakes, suspension and steering. But it’s not a given, as details can vary between different policies, so make sure you get the dealer to provide you with a full rundown of what’s included in your car’s warranty.
3. Can I book a test drive?
General rule of thumb: never buy a car without taking it for a spin first.
You will instantly discover if this is the car for you on a test drive. Behind the wheel, you can get an idea of how comfortable it is, how well it handles corners, different types of roads, and more.
While out and about in the vehicle, check the brakes, listen to the engine and get out on a fast road if possible so you can put the car through its paces.
If you notice anything untoward, speak to the salesperson. Assess how many times the car has been out already and how many miles it has clocked up on the road, and if there is a fixable fault (more likely in a used car), you may be able to negotiate a lower price.
If at any point you don’t feel comfortable with the car, then you are entitled to walk away, no strings attached.
4. Does the vehicle have a full-service history?
With used or secondhand cards, you can pretty much guarantee one thing: they have had at least one previous owner, if not more.
Asking the dealer to provide a full service history is recommended, so that you can see how well the vehicle has been looked after in the past, if it’s had any replacement parts and any repairs it may have had.
Although you will never get a complete picture, a full service history ensures the car in question retains its value than one with an incomplete service past.
If the seller or dealer can’t provide a full service history, despite advertising the vehicle as having one, this should raise a red flag immediately.
5. Can the car be sold legally?
So, you’ve found the car you want and its affordable. But before you make any hard and fast decisions, you need to find out if it can be sold legally.
For instance, if a vehicle has outstanding finance attached to it, it cannot legally be sold on. You see, dealers have to follow the Consumer Rights Act, where anything they sell has to be a) fit for purpose, b) sold as described and c) of satisfactory quality.
Any car sold that doesn’t fit the criteria stated in the act, can be returned of fully refunded within 6 months of purchase. Equally, if the car in question is an insurance write-off and doesn’t fit into Category C or D (after being made roadwrthy after repairs), then it shouldn’t be on the market, let alone up for sale.
6. Is MOT included?
While you can pretty much guarantee any reputable dealer will provide a valid MOT with any vehicle they sell, it’s not unreasonsable to ask the question.
By law, you and the dealer have a collective responsibility over the car having a valid MOT before you drive off the forecourt. Plus, MOTs don’t cost more than £54.85, so don’t be afraid to ask the dealer to cover the costs seeing as you are about to splash out on a new motor.
7. Correct mileage?
It may sound like something out of a scammers handbook, but ‘clocking’ is a real thing. Used to help improve a vehicle’s value, dodgy sellers may be inclined to lower the number on the odometer or mileage counter to bump prices up.
Before you agree to any sale, you can check out the government’s MO history checker. Simply enter the car’s registration number and you’ll be able to see all the accurate information online.
Reputable dealers aren’t hard to come by. But asking the right questions may save you money and get you a better deal on the forecourt.