New Year, New Car: 7 Questions to Ask at the Dealership

We all like to make a few changes each New Year, and this year it might be time to switch up your vehicle.

Although it’s not a small expense, picking the right car for your situation and what you can afford is all part of the deal.

Then you walk into the dealership, and everything you thought you knew about buying cars gets left at the front door. 

Fortunately, we’ve compiled 7 questions to ask at the dealership so that you know exactly what you’re signing up for before you drive away in your next motor:

Is this car affordable?

Knowing what you can reasonably afford ahead of buying a car is a must. Whether you plan to pay outright with cash, take out a personal loan or a finance deal, you need to ensure you have enough in the bank to commit to this big car-shaped spend!

So knuckle down your budget regardless of whether you are buying a secondhand, new or nearly new motor.

Take into account how much you are spending each month and how much “disposable” income you have at the end. Consider:

  • Rent/mortgage 
  • Utilities
  • Phone bill
  • Other day to day living costs
  • Fuel
  • Road tax, MOT & insurance
  • Running costs

Before you step into the dealership, remember that you might get a better car finance deal elsewhere. So do your homework first.

Compare finance deals from different lenders, and see what’s available so that when you see what’s on offer at the dealership, you know which option is the most viable for you. 

What’s more, you may have experienced rejection from lenders in the past. Whether you have a poor or limited credit history, are self-employed, have a default, a CCJ or have been bankrupt, “bad credit” car finance is available from specialists such as Carvine.

Can I book a test drive?

If the answer is no, then alarm bells should be ringing! Any reputable dealership will not only want you to take the car for a spin, but it’s all part of the experience.

Behind the wheel, you can get a feel for how well the car handles, listen out for any odd engine noises and simply discover if this is the vehicle for you. 

If you’re not comfortable with the car for any reason, you can walk away. You’re not committed to buying anything unless you are 100% happy. 

Is all the correct paperwork present?

Regardless of whether you are purchasing a used car or a brand new motor, all relevant paperwork should be on hand.

If the salesperson isn’t willing or makes up an excuse not to show it to you, this isn’t the car for you. 

The only time a dealer may not show you paperwork is if they have only currently got the car’s VC5 ‘green slip’ to hand.

This will occur if they have recently acquired the car and the new registration documents haven’t reached them yet. 

Can I see the service history?

While this only applies to nearly new and used vehicles, the question still stands.

A quick look at the service history will quickly tell you how the car has been cared for in the past and highlight how well it’s been maintained, as well as any replacement parts. 

Vehicles with a complete full service history are always more valuable than a similar model with a patchy past. 

Does the car come with a warranty?

If you are purchasing your new motor with car finance, it’s likely that a warranty is included, but it’s always worth asking.

With some manufacturers offering up to 7 years warranty, you’ll find that some used cars will still be covered by the original warranty. 

Make sure you ask the dealer:

  • Does the warranty carry over from driver to driver?
  • What issues have already been covered by the policy?
  • Do you (the dealer) offer an extra warranty as part of the sale?

Is the car MOT’d?

While MOTs are valid over a twelve-month period, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to ask the dealer if they can have the vehicle tested ahead of you committing to buy.

After all, what’s £54 to a reputable dealership to shell out to keep a customer happy?

What’s more, if you’re about to drive the car off the forecourt, you and the dealer are required by law to ensure the vehicle has a valid MOT. However, if you are loading the car onto a trailer, the MOT can wait. 

If the car you intend to buy is being advertised as roadworthy, though, it should have a valid MOT in place.

You can quickly find this out ahead of time (or if your 4G/5G is up to the job on the day) via the government’s MOT checker to confirm the date of the test and if it’s legal to drive the car away. 

Are there any extra perks I should know about?

If you don’t ask, you don’t get, and with any new car purchase, it’s worth knowing about any hidden perks before signing on the dotted line.

We don’t mean buying unnecessary add-ons such as tyre insurance and the like!

While having a manufacturer’s warranty may be a given with a brand new car (see above), servicing might not be included at all. 

If you’re considering an electric vehicle (EV), it’s worth knowing about the Plug-in Car Grant (PICG).

The scheme is available for most EVs under the £40,000 mark, up to £2,500 depending on the make, model, battery size you choose.

Alongside a car financing package, this can make an at first glance pricey EV far more affordable. 

Don’t turn your nose up to a 0% finance deal – well, until you’ve checked out all the details anyway.

These deals usually appear when a dealership is struggling to get rid of a particular model, so it’s worth a look as you could bag yourself a bargain.

Just remember, if you miss a payment, you could be switched to a more expensive repayment scheme. 

Are you ready to drive away in your new motor? With a few questions tucked up your sleeve for the dealer, you will ensure you get the car that’s right for you.

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