Top questions to ask at a new or used car dealership | AA Cars

Dealerships give potential car buyers face-to-face advice and support to help you make the right choice. Whether it’s in-depth knowledge on different models or recommendations on how to improve your driving experience, car dealers can give you the answers.

It’s important to ask the right questions though, so take a look at our 7 important questions to take with you when you visit a dealer.

Can I afford this vehicle?

Make sure you know what your budget is before walking into the dealership. If you’re looking to finance a vehicle and can talk about your budget with the dealer, they’ll be able to provide a better insight into whether you can afford the car you’re after or not.

Not only do you have to take into account the price of the vehicle, but also the road tax, fuel, MOT and insurance. A dealer can help by explaining what all of these mean and which will apply to the car you’re looking at.

The dealer may also ask you for proof of income so they can work out if you can afford a model or not – so it’s worth taking a bank statement with you to show that your interest in the vehicle is genuine.

Can the vehicle be sold legally?

If you’ve found the vehicle you want and know you can afford it, you need to check if it can be sold legally. Any vehicle with outstanding finance can’t be sold on, and dealers must also follow the Consumer Rights Act. Use our Vehicle History Checker to see if it has any outstanding issues.

That act says products must be ‘fit for purpose’, of a ‘satisfactory quality’ and be sold ‘as described’. If the vehicle doesn’t fit that criteria after it’s been sold, you can return it within 6 months for a full refund.

Dealers must also say whether the car is an insurance write-off or not – only Category C and D write-offs can be considered roadworthy after repairs.

Is all the correct paperwork available?

If they don’t or make excuses to not show it, don’t go through with a deal. If they’re legally allowed to sell it, the dealer should have all the vehicle’s paperwork.

However, if the dealer has only got the ‘green slip’ from the car’s V5C, then they have only recently taken the car in and a new registration document hasn’t been sent to them yet.

Does the vehicle have its service history?

A service history is a good place to check how well the vehicle has been looked after in the past. Though they aren’t a complete picture, checking a full service history will highlight any replacement parts and how well it’s been maintained.

If a car comes with a full service history, that will make it more valuable than a similar model with a patchy service past. This is also a good time to check if a vehicle advertised with full service history actually has one.

Is the mileage correct?

Despite it being illegal, ‘clocking’ has been used to help improve a vehicle’s value. By lowering the number on the odometer, or mileage counter, the price a seller can ask for can go up considerably.

You can check the mileage with the dealer, and then compare it to the recorded mileage on the government’s MOT history checker using your number plate to make sure the information is accurate.

Does the car have a valid MOT?

MOTs don’t cost more than £54.85 so if a car is due for one, it’s not unreasonable to ask the dealer if they can have the vehicle tested. In fact, if you’re driving the car off the forecourt, both you and the dealer are required to make sure it has an MOT, though it doesn’t need one if you’re going to take it away on a trailer.

If a car is advertised as being roadworthy, i.e. having a valid MOT, then you can use the government’s MOT checker to find out the test date and confirm it’s legal to drive away.

Is the vehicle covered by a warranty?

With some brands offering new cars with up to 7 years’ warranty, some used cars from those manufacturers will still have warranty when on sale again. By asking the dealer if that warranty carries over from driver to driver, you’ll be able to see if any issues will be sorted under the policy.

If the car doesn’t come with one, ask the dealer whether one can be provided as part of the sale, which will give you peace of mind.

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