4 Red Flags When Buying A New Car

When making the decision to buy a car, most of us have our guard up at least somewhat. Whether we’re buying new or used, we have reason to be concerned. The “hard sell” from the staff of new car showrooms are always tough to deal with, and the used side isn’t much better— after all, “used car salesman” is literally a trope for a particularly underhanded form of selling technique.

So it’s fair to say that, when buying a vehicle, we’re on our guard— but are we on guard enough? Sometimes, the desire for a good deal can be overwhelming; overwhelming to the point where our common sense begins to depart, and we’re open to being talked around. This can, and does, happen to the best of us— and sadly, the consequences can be catastrophic.

Let’s try and keep it simple, then. No matter the mitigating circumstances, the spiel from the salesperson, or the extra offers, if a car has any of the five warning signs below, you shouldn’t buy it. Or at least, you shouldn’t buy it unless you want to spend the next few years constantly having to contact the likes of Swan Towing so you can get home after yet another breakdown, anyway! Here’s the red flags you need to be on the lookout for:

Low mileage, bad condition

If a car looks like it’s done more miles than the salesperson claims it has done, that’s a bad sign. Dented bodywork, worn interior seats, worn leather on the steering wheel… and the car is only meant to have done 20,000 miles? Run a(nother) mile, because something definitely isn’t adding up here.

No history available

There may be occasions when no history of ownership or servicing is available for a legitimate reason, but 9.9 times out of 10, that’s not going to be the case. If the car has no known history, then don’t get involved; you have to know where a car has been to be able to trust it will be able to take you into the future.

Mismatched tires

Always check to see that the tires are the same brand and, ideally, in roughly the same condition. If there are big discrepancies, this is a sign of — at best — poor maintenance standards. It’s also worth checking the tread of the tires too; if the rubber is particularly worn this is, again, a sign of poor maintenance. If the tires have been improperly maintained, you have to suspect everything else has been improperly maintained too, and that means it’s time to walk away.

The car is already running when you’re taken to see it

A particular favourite of the dodgy salesman, if the car is running when you see it, then that’s a bad sign. Why does it need time to “warm up”? Why can you not start it yourself? Nine times out of ten the answer is going to be “because it doesn’t start first time”, so don’t give the salesperson the benefit of the doubt on this— walk away.

With the above in mind, your used car shopping should be simpler, easier, and far more likely to deliver you a vehicle that will work whenever you need it. Good luck!


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