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Reasons not to buy a used car!

It’s been a pretty good 12 months for motorists, with petrol prices at a five year low and plenty of incentives for buyers of both new and used cars. Fuel economy figures are rising, while there’s an increasing amount of cars entering the market with green emissions levels and those incorporating alternative fuels and technologies.

Second hand car salesHowever, despite excellent forecourt bargains and a buoyant market, a recent survey has suggested that a considerable number of motorists remain hesitant about buying a second hand car – especially privately. The AA recently carried out a survey of more than 18,000 of its members and discovered that 24% had gone to view a used car but been put off by unpleasant odours – from cigarette smoke to pet smells, the lack of care shown by the seller has clearly had a detrimental effect.

We all like our cars to be in prime condition, and the survey showed that this applied to both interior and exterior finishes; 38% were put off by rust or marks on the bodywork, while 31% rejected a sale on the grounds of poor interior condition. Older buyers had less of an issue with the car’s condition, with far fewer over 65s likely to ditch a purchase than those in the 18-24 band. There were some notable regional differences in the findings too, with the Welsh AA members most likely to be fussy over the car’s appearance than buyers elsewhere.

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Naturally, a test drive can also make or break a sale, with more than a third getting to that stage and then walking away. Private sales can often hinge on this part, and a worrying statistic shows that some 13% didn’t buy as they weren’t allowed to take the car out before buying. Again, regional numbers varied, with buyers in the south west most likely to walk away after an unsatisfactory test drive.

As a general rule, it’s always worth making as many checks as possible when buying used cars, from checking the registration plate to making sure log books and service records are in place. When it comes to looking for insurance, any previous write-offs should also be clearly flagged. If you have any doubts at all, then walk away. Naturally the chances of making a poor purchase should be lower via a reputable dealership or known motor traders, whose cars are often approved and thoroughly checked before going out on the forecourt or reaching trade plates.


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