Recycling is a good thing. Of that there is no doubt and we should all be doing a lot more of it. For example, it is possible to buy and sell used clothes. If you’ve got some old togs to unload then there will be someone, somewhere in the world who needs them. Why, you can even buy used clothes.
Some people like to dress up in gear from another era like the Swinging Sixties. How you feel about that depends if you are prepared to wear the vestments of long-dead people and even squeeze into some old chap’s aged, yellowing Y-Fronts to save a few bob on nether garments. In a way, you could say the same about motors – you don’t always know where cast-off used cars have been.
The used car market is about recycling. If you can’t afford new, then there is a huge supply of used vehicles out there but, just like putting your hand into a bin bag full of cast-off clobber, you have to be careful what you pull out.
Buying a used car need not be an exercise in fear and trepidation though. The sensible buyer does their homework and, if in doubt or if the workings of cars are a mystery, takes a clued-up friend or relation along for the ride as long as it is not your old Uncle Ernie who worked in a garage forty years ago and insists he’s up to speed on hybrid technology.
There is plenty of advice on the do and don’ts of used car buying and it is always essential to check the mechanical condition and safety aspects. It pays to remember that cars should always be checked in daylight and not in the rain. An older car might well show some signs of wear or repair. This is not necessarily a problem, but does that wear and tear match up to the miles on the clock. Clocking is still an issue today.
No used car is perfect and an honest repair should not be a worry if properly attended to. If it seems like a decent car but there is some uncertainty then there might be a case for paying for a professional inspection. It’s a bit of an outlay but it is a lot cheaper long term than buying a heap.
Cars have to be fit for the road and safe to drive. That’s the law. The Road Traffic Act makes it illegal to sell vehicle that is not roadworthy. This law stands for both trade and private vendors. Just don’t assume that sellers always follow that code. There is also the question of whether or not the car is the vendor’s to sell. There is always the chance it is a stolen car or it might in fact belong to a finance company. Get this one wrong and there is no compensation scheme. A history/data check should sort this out and they cost very little. In other words look out for strange anomalies.
Sometimes it is difficult to spot accident damage, for example. The advertisement might say that the car has never been shunted but how does the layman know? There are some tell-tale signs – rippled metal under the bonnet or under the boot carpet for example. Another good tip is put your hand up the wheel arches. A used car will accumulate dirt in these inaccessible places. If three corners are dirty and one is clean some additional questioning is required. Of course, a car could have been steam cleaned underneath prior to being advertised. This is unusual and could also set alarm bells ringing.
There are many great legitimate used cars for sale. Buy from an approved or established dealer and try for some form of warranty. Take care, take time for a thorough inspection and all should be well. Finally, never buy used cars from some bloke down a back alley – they are likely to be pants.
Finally, here’s something worth thinking about if you like to restore older cars to sell them on, or simply if you’re into the buying and selling vehicles part-time, would be the precaution of part time motor trade insurance. Geoff Maxted