Carole Nash
Content Writer
Published: 19th September 2017

Buying a car is simple. Or, at least it should be.

In the world of second hand – especially classic – motors, dodgy dealers have a nasty habit of complicating things. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to avoid getting ripped off.

Warning signs

From the moment you step out of the car, there are a few warning signs you should always look for when visiting any dealership.

• Running car – you’re going to want to see how the car starts when cold, so if the car you’re looking at is running when you turn up, you might want to consider turning around and coming back another time.

• We’ll come to you – if any dealer asks if they can come to you, rather than the other way around, alarm bells should start to sound in your head. If they don’t want you to see their place, chances are you won’t want to either – so steer well clear.

• Paying in cash – although it may have its uses on the odd occasion, cash transactions are much harder to trace than say, cheques or electronic payments – and sometimes this makes it easy to avoid paying tax. If your dealer requests you to pay in cash, politely suggest that you’d be much more comfortable paying with a cheque. If he declines, there’s nothing stopping you from walking away.

Let Google do the legwork

Reputation is everything when it comes to selling cars – so if you’re thinking of buying from a certain dealer, it might be worth punching its name into Google and seeing if there are any reviews available to read online. Sites such as Yelp are a godsend when it comes to reviews – so be sure to check it out.

Check the reg

Once you know the registration number of the car you’re looking to buy, it might be worth contacting the DVLA for a full vehicle check. To do this, simply head to the DVLA website, enter the vehicle make and registration and hey presto – you’re good to go. Doing a vehicle check will probably tell you nothing you don’t already know, but they’re well worth doing, just in case the car is stolen, for instance.

No docs, no deal

Documents can tell you a lot about a car, including its service history and mileage- so if they’re missing, who’s to say you’re not buying a banger? Ideally, the car you’re buying will have a full service history tucked neatly in its glove box, but if that or the V5 document can’t be found, we strongly recommend you try and find it!

Sealing the deal

Whenever you’re dealing with dodgy salesman, nine times out of ten, sealing the deal is the trickiest part of the process. If you like what you see – and you’ve followed the steps listed above – always try and hold off from naming a price until they do. They might say something like, ‘I can’t go below XYZ’ – which is often nonsense, so don’t believe a word of it, whatever you do.

Once you’re talking numbers, it’s time to negotiate. The golden rule here is not to be intimidated – no matter how pushy he or she tries to be. It might help to have a ‘maximum amount’ you’re willing to go to in your mind – a trick that is particularly handy when you’re on a budget.

Provided you’ve come to an agreement, shake the dealers hand and drive away. If not – and after a good few minutes of negotiating you remain poles apart in terms of your respective valuations – tell the dealer you’re going to go away and think about it. You don’t have to call them back in a few days’ time – but it might be worth doing so anyway just in case they’re willing to lower their price.