8 top tips for purchasing a new vehicle

December 1, 2015 - 5 minutes read

Looking for a new vehicle should be exciting but we understand that it can be a daunting experience. We asked our motoring expert Simon Greiner to give us his top 8 tips when you are out looking for your new vehicle.

  1. Carry out research

Before you start visiting dealerships it’s wise to look at online price guides and forums to understand the value of different vehicles, visit a couple of dealers and check online websites to give you an idea of an “average price”.  Being aware of the recommended values and ‘going rates’ of a few cars will help you when it comes to negotiations on the price.  Ensure you factor in mileage and age and not just the model!

  1. Budget for the cost

Purchasing a vehicle isn’t cheap so we recommend budgeting for the cost to ensure you can afford the payments.  If you purchase a vehicle though finance you will have monthly payments to make. But remember on top of this you will also have to cover the cost of running the vehicle, i.e. insurance, fuel, regular services and annual MOTs.

  1. Inspect the vehicle carefully

Try not to get too excited when you find a vehicle you like, emotions can cloud your judgment!  Always arrange to view a vehicle during the day so you can see all scratches, dents or other problems it may have.  If the vehicle has mismatched colours, smudges of spray paint on the locks or windows, it may be hiding faults from an accident.  Don’t let your excitement over a new vehicle carry you away, if it doesn’t feel right walk away!

  1. Check the registered keeper

Ask to see the V5C vehicle registration document, often referred to as the log book, as this will show the registered keeper and not the legal owner.  This is the document you receive when you purchase the vehicle to send to the DVLA to register as the new owner.  You can also use the document number to search for the vehicle history on the AA website.

  1. Check the vehicle paperwork

Check that the handbook will be provided with the vehicle as this can be expensive to replace.  Also ask how many keys will be provided with the vehicle as it could cost over £100 to get another key cut.

  1. Check the service history

If the previous owner of the vehicle has lost the service book then you can check the service and MOT history back to 2005 online, using the below link.  Vehicles older than 3 years old should have paperwork for repairs or parts as well as MOT certificates and records of regular servicing, if nothing can be found it’s not a good sign!


  1. Enquire about the cambelt

Cambelts on cars differ and should be replaced on the manufacturer’s specification, some go by mileage and some by age.  As a general rule cambelts should be replaced every 50,000 – 70,000 miles but could be sooner depending on the age and condition of the vehicle so it’s always worthwhile to check this with the manufacturer.  You can always ask the dealership when the cambelt was last changed but I would also check this against the service history.

  1. Always take it for a test drive

All dealerships will let you test drive their vehicles although they may not advertise it well.  If you ask to take a vehicle for a test drive and they don’t allow you to, then they are hiding something!  Don’t take it any further with that vehicle and also consider visiting another dealership.  When you do take a vehicle on a test drive, use this time to check all the electronics, things like the stereo and electric windows.  Keep an eye out for any warning lights, sluggish driving or issues with the gears or brakes.  Use this time wisely, drive it around for 15 minutes or so to ensure you like the feel of the vehicle, don’t let the dealer rush you.