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How Breakdown Cover Is Helpful When Purchasing A 'Used Car'!

Dec 13, 2007
After buying a house, buying a used car is one of the biggest financial decisions you'll make, so it's important to get it right.

The problem is, however, very few of us are qualified to check the condition of the car when we're looking for a replacement. We are more likely to use first impressions as a basis for our decision; how tidy the car looks, the colour, etc.

That's why dealers put effort into keeping the cars clean and polished.

Obviously, it's a good idea to take someone along with you, someone with a knowledge of cars and who is able to advise on things that you know nothing about. You may also be referred to a trustworthy dealer by a friend and some dealers will have vehicles pre-inspected by the RAC. Just ask to see the report.

By the way, having a good breakdown cover package, and being able to call on roadside assistance, is common sense, especially if you purchase a used car which could have problems that you know little about. This can be even more important if you buy privately, from someone you don't know.

There are things you can do to help yourself, such as validate the ownership of the vehicle - by checking the log book or registration details, accuracy of the mileage and age.

You could look for signs of poor colour matching or non-original welding. These could be tell-tale signs of the vehicles' involvement in an accident. Check under the bonnet and look for engine leaks, look on the ground for oil leaks and for blue smoke from the exhaust pipe.

Ask to see the service history - is it close to another service? Is the mileage correct? What's the condition of the seat upholstery? It's also a good idea to take the car for a spin - check the steering, brakes, gears, clutch, etc. How does it handle in general?

All these things can add up to help you make the right decision. If you're looking for real peace of mind, however, there is the option to get the experts to check it out for you. Considering the fact that you could be spending a few thousand pounds, the cost of an RAC Vehicle Inspection is well worthwhile. And you can get a good discount if you already have RAC breakdown cover (even if it's only roadside assistance).

For only a fiver, massively reduced from 24.99, you can also get an RAC car data check. This will tell you whether or not the car is stolen, if it's an insurance write off, if there's any outstanding finance on it or even if it's had previous plates.

The last thing you want to do is to buy a vehicle, find out later that it's not roadworthy and end up paying a small fortune to get it through the MOT. More importantly though, your life and the lives of others may rest on the condition of the vehicle you purchase, so if in doubt, get a qualified second opinion before you buy.
About the Author
Les Shaw operates in the UK as a 'Face to Face' agent representing RAC Motoring Services, providing Breakdown Cover to the UK public.
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