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Help with Buying a used car

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OK, so you decided to buy a used car. Whether this is your first car or not, you should be careful who you are buying from and always pay attention to the detail.

Most used car searches start on the internet, but you can also find the right car in the papers or dedicated magazines.
Anyway, say you have circled a few of them, made few phone calls and arranged a time and date for viewing the cars.
Below you will find  a few points to help you with checking your new car

  • If you have the registration number of the car you are going to finally purchase you can also get an Auto Check Report which might save you money and time.

Get an Auto Check Report for your next used car

1. Always view the car in daylight when you can see it properly and notice small defects that are not usually visible at night.

2. Never bring the money with you if buying from private party. A small deposit of 100Euro should secure your purchase.

3. Never meet in car parks and other public places to view the car. If the seller is not willing to give you his address for security reasons then ask him to drive to you. If for security reasons you don’t want the seller to bring the car down to you, then you could choose a place to meet but as I mentioned above, do not bring the money with you but just enough to put a deposit on it.

4. You meet in a public place, you put a deposit on the car now is time to go and collect your goods. At this point the seller should already have some trust in you to give you his address. If he doesn’t then something could be wrong. Either the car has a hidden history, has been barely fixed just to make the sale, etc. That normally should raise some questions marks straight away.

5. Check the papers that comes with the car. Make sure they match the chassis and the engine serial (VIN) number both the car and the log-book.

6. If the car is older then 4 years, make sure it has passed the NCT. If it had failed for “small things”, please do not take it for grant it that it doesn’t cost much to fix it. Let the seller go for the Re-test. Sometimes those small things could cost a fortune, especially electrical problems.

7. Have a mechanic check the car for you. They could easily spot problems quicker then yourself.

8. Take the car for a test drive. Drive it at low speed on a rough road, also drive it at high speed (check speed limit in the area), preferably Motorway or Dual-Carriage way.

9. Constantly check the brakes for vibrations by pressing the foot-brake pedal, which is caused by warped brake disks and needs to be replaced.

10. When and if driving at high speed (motorway), slightly release the pressure on the steering wheel, just enough to see if the car is trying to go to the side (left or right), which can be caused by bad wheel tracking.

11. Make sure the wheel is not shaking, which is caused by bad wheels balance or a damaged rim that has been badly fixed (alloy wheels).

12. Check all electrical switches making sure they are all in working order, especially electric windows and electric sunroof. Always roll them down fully, then roll them back-up. Also check central locking for all doors if fitted.

13. If  there is a fitted radio this should be checked as well including the CD player or tape-deck.

14. Check all seat-belts by pulling them out and locking them into place. Due to safety reasons a faulty seat-belt will fail NCT.

15. After starting the engine all lights in the dashboard should turn-off automatically. If not there is a fault that needs to be fixed. Before starting the engine check the dashboard light (engine light, ABS, Airbags) that they are working and the bulbs are not missing or burned-out.

16. If the car has NCT, compare the mileage from the speedometer with the mileage written on the NCT papers and also compare todays date with the NCT date. Normally a car shouldn’t do more then 10-15000 miles per year, so doing a bit of maths should give a clue of how many miles the car has done since last NCT ( If the NCT has been done 12 months ago or more and the odometer difference is very small compared with what’s on the paper should raise few questions).

17. Check the Road Tax – when is the last time this car has been taxed (verify the reg plate wit the registration written on the Tax disc). If the car hasn’t been taxed for a long time, there is a chance that the car has been damaged and fixed sitting in a garage waiting for parts. The seller should have a very good reason for it so go ahead and ask.

18. Check the exterior of the car.

19. Look out for scratches, dents, miss-alignment between the door, wings, bonnet, boot-door. The gap (e.g. between the door and the wing) should be equal all around.

20. Check the paint colour. Should be uniform and same shade. A brighter panel colour indicates that it has been replaced or repainted. Is very hard to duplicate the original paint finish.
Now we are not saying that it had had a major damage, these things happens every day and small dents can be even seen on brand new cars, so ask the owner about it.

21. Look for signs of over-spray easily spotted on windows, doors seal, doors handles, especially in small corners (top or bottom corner of the windscreen) which are easily missed by garages after re-paint.

22. Have a person inside the car while you walk around and check all lights to be in working order (indicators, brake light, fog lights, side lights, hight beam and low beam, spot lights if fitted).

23. Make sure the glass covering the light (front, back and side) are not cracked or broken.

24. Now moving back inside the car, check the carpet for damp and leaks. In a hot summer day the smell of damp is easily spotted and can be very unpleasant.

25. Check seats for damages and usage. They can be very expensive to fix. If the seats are covered, remove them and see whats hidden behind.

26. Check the rubbers fitted on the pedals. Excessive use should tell you the car has done a lot of mileage and sometimes the car can fail the NCT for it.

27. Check heater which should blow hot air if the engine was running for a little while. Make sure all speeds are working.

28. Check the Air conditioning if fitted. It should blow cold air instantly.

29. Moving to the boot area – look for the spare wheel, jack and the jack lever, making sure they are there. You never know when you are going to need them.

30. Pull up the carpet in the boot and look for signs of over-spray, damage and water leaks.

31. Moving to the front of the car and look under the bonnet. Engine should be clean, no signs of oil or water leaks. The bonnet should open easy enough and the alignment between the bonnet and head-light should be the same.

32. Look at the chassis leg – should be straight and have no damage signs or over spray.

33. Check the panels behind the headlights for signs of damage.

34. Make sure all wires are in place and without visible damage or loose.

35. Inspect the water tank area. Dark yellow dried dust indicates engine over-heated. Also the tank should be full.

36. Battery and battery terminals should be clean.

37. Check the brake-fluid level.

38. If you spot an alarm siren under the bonnet find out if it’s working and see if the remote controls are available. 
Now you have seen the car, and took it for a test drive and you are willing to buy it, so is time for negociating the final price.

Price Negotiation for your next Used Car.

This is probably the hardest part of buying a car and doesn’t last longer then 10min.
You have your facts right, you like the car ( never let that away to the seller ), you know and found the bargaining points, you know the asking price so lets go ahead and ask “What is the last selling price?”. This is a very frustrating question, some sellers didn’t allow for negotiation when setting  the price and they might not want to bring it down at all. But hey business is business and you are prepared for it and so should  the seller.
One very important point I would like to make here:
Learn to say NO and walk away from a deal. You want to buy a car not conquer the world, and you want satisfaction for yourself. Don’t let the seller insult your intelligence. If the seller is not willing to negotiate, then move to the next one you found, but before you go make sure you give the seller your phone number to call you just in case he changed his mind. There are tons of used cars on the market, and rushing things doesn’t usually help. 

You and the Seller should be able to compromise for the final price easy enough and when the deal is made your are both happy. Once the deal is made, sign all papers, adding the time and date of the purchase made (very important), sign a receipt, make sure you get all the keys and remote control if available, get all the documents that come with the car, except the log book which has to be posted to the Vehicle Registration Office in Shannon by the last owner and drive home safely.

The above should apply both Private or Garage Sale, the only difference is from Private Sellers is that you get no warranty on the car, while Garages or Dealers do give the least 3 months on engine and gearbox.

Talking about buying from Used Car Dealers and warranty, reminds me to say: Never buy a car “As Is” or “As seen” and always get written documentation about what the warranty offered and for how long. Even if you pay cash, always get an invoice for the purchase you have made.
Buying from a garage or used car dealer you are protected by the Irish law – Sale of Goods and Supply of Services Act 1980 – within limits, due to the fact that you are buying from a person that owns or works for a business registered in Ireland as selling used cars, which is not the same as buying from private sellers where the law is only on your side if the fault found is likely to endanger the people driving it and even that is very limited. 
If you find a fault with the car, bring it back to the garage and let them sort it out for you, making sure you got receipts and written confirmation of what has been done. Papers can be  a life saver, so always keep them safe, you never know when you might need them. If the garage fails to fix the problem, find out if the business is a member of the SIMI and give them a call about it. This has to be done within 3 months from the time of purchase the vehicle.
You can also get more information about your rights at The National Consumer Agency which has made some documentation available on-line for download – Here -> or give them a call @ 1890 432 432 or visit their website:  

Buying from Car Auctions.

Highly NOT recommended, as you will need a lot of experience and that have little or no come back.
Auctioneers have their own Terms and Conditions which lets you know before signing it that there are no warranties given on your purchase for any faults you might find after, so make sure you know what you are doing.

This is by far complete but we are looking into it and will add new points as we find them, and should help you  in getting a decent car without some sort of hidden history.

Now if you finally purchase the right car, staff will like to take this opportunity and wish you “Happy Motoring and Safe Driving” and hey don’t forget – “Speed Kills” or as you see on some signs on our roads – “Get the Point not the Points“.

Published under Tips and Advicesend this post
October 1st, 2007

Useful Motoring Links

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Auto Directory – Find Used Car Dealers, Auto Electricians, Panel Beaters, Mechanics, etc.

Car Finder – Help in finding that used car you are looking for.

Sell your used car on-line – Buy and sell used cars website

VRT (vehicle registration tax) Office – On line VRT calculator

Motor Tax Office – Get your Car Taxed on-line.

NCT website – Book your next NCT on-line

Driving Test

Road Safety Authority

Taxi Regulator

An Garda Siochana – Ireland’s National Police Service

Extended Auto Warranty  – Avoid surprises and costly auto repairs while protecting your investment with an extended auto warranty.

October 1st, 2007

Help with Selling my used car

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These days Selling a car is easier then ever. 
By selling private you can make 1000-3000 Euro more on the car then as a trade-in for your next car.
Following the points below, you should have your car sold fairly quick and easy.

So lets get started. You have a used car to sell, you know how much you paid for it, you also know how long you have it for and roughly how many miles have done. Nobody knows the condition it’s in but yourself so lets see what we can do to help you move this car quick enough.

  • Start by browsing on-line or through the papers looking for the exact make, model and year as your car.
    If your car is rare enough then look for same model and make but 1-2 year younger and/or 1-2 year older taking notes of the prices you have found, and taking notes about the conditions those cars are in.
    If dates are available since the car has been advertised like we have on our website, make notes of them too.
  • Based on findings, you should be able to set a price for your own used car.
    We know you might think that your car is worth more than what those statistics gives, but that’s only in your heart.
    Cars are not valued based on your feelings, but based on the market value, the time of the year (e.g. convertibles are cheaper in the winter, than mid summer season), the condition its in, mileage, looks, etc.
  • Now setting a price for your used car should be fairly easy.
    Based on what you found in your research and depending on how fast you want to sell it, set the price just above the minimum found if you are happy with it and add 2-300 Euro to it to allow negotiation.
    Buyers love negotiating a price, and getting a car cheaper than it has been advertised for, makes them think they have struck a better deal than they were expecting.
    Now you might encounter bargain hunters, but hey is your car, you set the price, and you know how much you want to take for it, so just be straight to the point.
    Learn when to stop the negotiation and say “NO” .
    Don’t let buyers insult you with a price that is probably way below the value of the car.
    Learn to walk away from a deal if is not satisfactory.
    This rules applies to Buying as well.
  • Get the car cleaned.
    You can book it into a Valeting garage and have it professionally cleaned or you can grab some gloves, a cloth, the hoover and few bottles of cleaning stuff and do it yourself.
    A clean car gives the buyer the confidence of a looked after vehicle which is a very important selling point.
  • Now is time to advertise it.
    You can start by advertising your car on our websites – Sell your car – also the other few websites available in Ireland.
    Prices for advertising on the net could vary from Free Add to 30 or 40 euro. 
    Believe it or not most searches for a used carstarts on the internet.
    The advantage of internet is that you can add more images to your ad and give a better description (selling points), where papers tend to limit the amount of text you can use and let you add an image at an extra cost.
    Very important: If you decided to advertise it on the internet, make sure you have few images available.
    Don’t just use up an ad describing the car.
    As we all know an image says a thousand words.
    Put yourself in the buyers position when searching for a car – would you prefer to see an image attached to the ad or not. I like to believe you do.
    Make the ad title attractive not just Ford Fiesta, try to be more creative like Ford Fiesta 1.2L ** Very Reliable Car **, also ad words like CHEAP, TAXED, NCT, but only if they turn out to be true and don’t abuse it. The title of the ad is very important as it makes it stand out from the crowd.
    Don’t forget to include a phone number to the ad and check the details twice making sure they are correct.
    Advertising on the net will also give you the option to receive queries by email, but before you do that, check the website by looking at a few adds, making sure your email is not displayed in plain text otherwise you’ll be ending up receiving a lot of spam and useless information that you have never subscribed to.
    If you can not take calls while at work, mentioned that in your ad or divert your phone to a mail-box.
  • The phone is ringing, what should I do, what should I say.
    Just to take the call as you normally do.
    There is nothing scary about it, you have a car for sale and potential buyers are calling to get more details. Give as much details as you can.
    The buyers will ask a lot of questions, be polite and give them an accurate answer.
    You might find that some questions are blunt or doesn’t make any sense to you, be polite and ask the caller to repeat the question. Some callers might ask you “What’s the final price?” – That in my view ( I could be wrong) is a trick question.
    The reason some will ask you is to get a negotiating price start.
    Let’s say you have the car advertised for 5000.00 Euro and you are prepared to take 4700.00 for it (probably less), so when the caller ask you for the final price you say 4700.00.
    Now he/she comes around to see the car, takes it for a drive, checks it out and decides to buy it.
    You probably expect your negotiation to start from 5000.00, price you have it in your add, but in the buyer point of view he/she will start from 4700.00 the final price you gave them on the phone.
    So the point I am trying to make is: Don’t give a final price over the phone.
    How can you ask for a final price when you haven’t even seen the car?
    A proper answer to that question will be – “I am prepared to negotiate, but not over the phone.
    Drop around, have a look and check it out, then we can talk.
  • Now you have got the buyers coming around to see the car by appointment – make sure you have the keys and all the necessary documentation handy.
    When they arrive, show them the car and step back giving them space to talk about it in private and let them have a look around and don’t just hand the keys over going inside the house.
    For what we know they could be anybody so pay attention.
    Buyers would like to take the car for a drive, make sure you go with them.
  • If the buyer decides to purchase your car but doesn’t have all the money available, make sure you get a non-refundable deposit to secure it.
    Give them a receipt for the down payment and make sure you write how long will that cover it for.
    You don’t want to take a deposit for a car for three months do you?
    A week or two max should be enough. Now-a-days finance packages are sorted out in less then 24 hours.
    Also write down the last price you have agreed on so  a basic receipt should look like this:

    Seller Details: Buyer Details:

    Car Details:

    Sold for:
    Deposit taken:
    Deposit available for:

    Seller Signature:


    Car Details: 

    Bought for:
    Deposit paid:
    Deposit available for:

    Buyer Signature:


  • This is far from being a complete article and we are still working on it but the basics are here so we hope you find this information useful and we would like to wish a “Quick Sale“. 
Published under Tips and Advicesend this post
October 1st, 2007

Deciding What Car To Buy

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Things to help you in purchasing the right car.

1. What type of car am I looking for?
      This should probably be one of the first questions you should ask yourself.
      This question in turn brings about other questions like the ones listed below.

a. Is it going to be just for me and my partner?
b. Is it going to be used for long drives?
c. Do I need a big engine or a small 1.0 – 1.3 litre will do?
d. Am I buying a car to impress others or am I buying a car for my own purpose?
e. Am I going to be able to insure it and for how much?
f.  How much will the Road Tax  cost?
g. How much is it going to cost me for servicing this car?
h I am I after a coupe or should I be better-off getting a saloon?
i.  If you are into customising the car (body kits, etc), can I get parts ready available to make it look good, or do I need to pay extra to get one custom-made?
j. How long am I going  to keep this new car?

Enough with the questions, now lets see if we can give you some answers.

Q:  a. Is it going to be just for me and my partner?

Now this should have an easy answer. 
If you like 2 doors sports cars and you are not going to have kids in the near future, then a coupe model should do, otherwise we would suggest going for a saloon or even a MPV (multi purpose vehicle) type. 
The downside of a coupe model is that is very limited in space, in some cases like Toyota MR2 (just an example) only 2 seats – driver and one passenger, but there are coupe models out there that could take up to 4 people (including the driver) like Hyundai Coupe, Toyota Celica, just to mention a few. 
This can be very easily spotted by counting the number of seat-belts available.

Q: b. Is it going to be used for long drives?

If the car you are going to purchase will be used mostly for long drives (e.g. Dublin to Belfast), the smallest engine we would recommend will be 1.6 litre. A smaller engine will do as well, but it wouldn’t be as comfortable especially on motorways.

Q: c. Do I need a big engine or a small 1.0 – 1.3 litre will do? 

The answer from question b. should be part of this solution. A smaller car is very useful for driving in town, parking, less fuel consumption (cheaper to run), also a car with a small engine is cheaper to service as well, plus the cost of Road Tax and Insurance will be lower comparing with bigger engines. All these cost add up at the end of the year.

Q: d. Am I buying a car to impress others or am I buying a car for my own purpose? 

No suggestions here from us, you should try think about this yourself. We wouldn’t want to offend anybody so sorry we haven’t got a proper answer for this question.

Q: e. Am I going to be able to insure it and for how much? 

OK, so you have decided which car your are going for, you have most of the details about it (engine size, alarm fitted, etc), now is the time to make few calls looking for an insurance quote, before going to purchase it. Depending on few terms about yourself, and the car itself, you should be able to get a rough estimate of how much is going to cost you per year and what you will get for your money, for more about this (Link to Insurance page).

Q: f. How much will the Road Tax cost? 

Based on the details you have about the car engine size you can go to and download the .pdf file available.

Q: g. How much is it going to cost me for servicing this car? 

There are few factors to take in consideration when trying to figure out how much a service will cost. Our advice to you is shop around. You will be surprised how service prices can vary from garage to garage. Also a car with a smaller engine will cost a lot less than a car with a bigger engine, a main dealer will cost more than a smaller garage, but as we said shop around. Best is to ask friends to recommend a garage that they use and were happy with the service they got. We just have to say one thing, is the quality that matters not the price.
If you can get both then you are more than a Happy Customer.

Q: h. I am after a coupe  or should I be better-off getting a saloon? 

This is a hard decision to make, especially when getting a 5 years loan for your car. I mean 5 years is a long time and anything could happen. A new member to your family, could get you to sell your sport car and move to a family saloon or MPV. It happened to me and it could happen to anybody, so a decision has to be made. It’s not really a big deal at the end. You can always get a re-finance loan, trade the old car in for a new one, but usually you will lose money and if that’s not what you want take your time and think now.

Q: i. If you are into customising the car (body kits, etc), can you get parts ready available to make it look good, or do you need to pay extra to get one custom-made?

It happened before, getting the car and trying to find parts for it proved to be more difficult than ever. Doing your homework in advance could save you time and hassle in the future. The market is full of parts for customising your car to make it look good, but sometimes the cost in getting these parts shipped to your door, sprayed, fitted and making sure you get quality not quantity proves to be complicated. You found (for example) a nice body kit that will suit your future car, but is made in China. Sending a quick email to the company to see if they ship to your location, and how much is going to cost, will help. Just because you have seen it, it doesn’t mean you can have it. Now buying the parts before getting the car, wouldn’t help either. What happens if you change your mind and choose a different motor?

Q: j. How long am I going to hold on to this new car?
Knowing this will help you decide the term for your finance and / or how much are you going to spend to get the right car.

Published under Tips and Advicesend this post
September 30th, 2007