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Buying a Car or Van on Freeads: Our Advice

August 15, 2011 By: Tom (Freeads Blogger) Category: Motors

Car IsolatedContinuing our advice series, here is our buying advice related to items in our second most popular category on the site: motors.

What to do Before Buying

There are as many different kinds of cars or vans to choose from as there are people buying them. When you make the decision to buy a new car or van you should consider the following factors:

  • Finances
  • Family Size
  • Physical Locations Driven In
  • Environmental Impact

You will also want to take into account what features and accessories a car or van has to offer, for example:

  • Number and Type of Seats
  • Boot and Luggage Space
  • Interior Space
  • Air Conditioning
  • CD Player
  • MP3 Compatibility
  • Satellite Radio
  • Cruise Control
  • ISOFIX Capabilities

The most important factor to take in when considering a car or van is how safe it is. You’ll want to find out if the vehicle has been in any accidents, see how many airbags it has, make sure the seat belts work, and find out what the overall safety rating is.

Checking out the Car or Van

  • Take a walk around the car to assess its general state, look for any obvious problems.
  • Let the seller show you the car, but don’t let them distract you, some dishonest sellers may try to do this in order to stop you from spotting problems.
  • Crouch down in front of each front wheel and look along the length of the car. Both front wheels should be directly in front of the rear.
  • Look closely at each tyre for uneven wear (don’t forget the spare). Tyres are expensive, so if they need replacing, use this as a bargaining tool.
  • Check under the car, particularly at the front and back, under the bonnet and under the carpet in the boot for signs of damage.
  • Make sure all the seatbelts work.
  • Look at the dashboard binnacle. If the car has a mechanical milometer, which turns as you drive, make sure all the barrels are aligned correctly and make sure the mileage tallies with MOT certificates and service history.
  • Make sure all the switches work.
  • Locate the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).
  • Check all the numbers match the logbook and your Car History Check documents.
  • Check for the oil level and for signs of oil leaks.

Interacting with Sellers

  • Before you view the car, make sure you’re fully insured, and take proof with you.
  • Start the car when the engine is cold. It should start immediately.
  • After you’ve started the car, check the exhaust for excessive noise.
  • Have a look at the exhaust smoke, white, steam-like smoke is okay as long as it’s not in excessive amounts.
  • During your test drive, test out every function the car has.
  • Listen out for unusual noises and don’t let the seller distract you by talking or turning up the radio.
  • The seller will usually suggest a route, but if it’s not long enough tell them. It’s okay to drive the car hard, but don’t abuse it.
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