Take control of the car buying process, says GEM Motoring Assist

Posted on July 3rd, 2013 by GEM Motoring Assist


Buying a car can be an overwhelming and daunting process. Knowing the difference between a good deal and a rip-off usually requires you to have done your research, while the clever tactics of the salesman can lure us into parting with a lot more of our hard-earned money than we might have expected. But, in today’s cash-strapped environment, it’s more important than ever to ensure that you’re getting a good deal for your car purchase. Knowing what questions to ask and what pitfalls to look out for will help to ensure that you only buy a car that will best suit you and your needs.

To help negotiate this potential motoring minefield, GEM Motoring Assist has put together a checklist to guide consumers through the process of buying a new or used car. Drawn up by GEM’s road test editor, the vastly experienced motoring journalist David Motton, the checklist covers effective research, proper test driving, taking on the salesman, and allowing yourself time for making a decision. Equipped with the right information, buying a car can be an exciting and successful experience.

Firstly, create a shortlist by asking:

  • What do you use your car for?
  • Will that use change during the years that you plan to keep the car?
  • How much can you afford to spend on buying and running the car?

Then, do some research:

  • Compare specs and prices on manufacturer websites so that you can narrow down your shortlist
  • Read professional reviews by experienced motoring journalists, as well as owner reviews and customer satisfaction surveys

New or used?

  • Bear in mind that a new car will probably include a much longer warranty and will be equipped with the latest safety features
  • But, a used car will cost less to buy and will hold its value better than a new model of the same price

Visit a dealer:

  • Get the most from static demonstrations of a car’s features – also check the head and legroom, boot space, and move the folding seats
  • If buying a used car, check that the electrical equipment is working properly, examine the bodywork for dents and scuffs, and look through the service history

Take a test drive:

  • Before you set off, get comfortable – adjust the seat, wheel and mirrors
  • Preferably drive on dual carriageways, as well as urban routes, to find out what the car is like at different speeds

Test the car’s performance by asking yourself:

  • Does it ride bumps comfortably?
  • Is the engine as responsive as you expected?
  • Is it quiet or noisy at speed?
  • Is all-round visibility good or do thick windscreen pillars get in the way?
  • Do the brakes work smoothly?
  • Does the car pull to the left or right?

When you’re ready, shop around:

  • If buying a new car, research the deals offered by new car brokers
  • If buying a used car, look for similar cars for sale online and take copies of any ads with comparable cars at lower prices
  • Never worry about walking away from the deal if it doesn’t feel right

At the collection point:

  • Once the deal is finalised and you collect the car, check it over thoroughly
  • Bear in mind that a new car may have been damaged in transit, or extras that you specified may not have been fitted, while a used car may have picked up a scrape or scratch while being moved around the forecourt
  • Make sure the service booklet, owner’s manual and warranty documents are included

Access GEM’s most recent car reviews.