Are you ready for the new car buying season? The Motor Ombudsman has got you covered with their essential tips to help you navigate the process and make an informed decision. With the arrival of the new 73 registration plate, it’s important to be well-prepared and knowledgeable when purchasing a new vehicle. From researching your options to understanding the financing and paperwork involved, here are 12 key points to keep in mind:
1. Shop around and take a test drive
Spending time doing your research online and visiting showrooms can pay off, as the choice of car models and fuel types has grown in recent years. Once you have a shortlist of cars suitable for your requirements and budget, take a test drive to get a practical experience of what they will be like to use on a day-to-day basis.
2. Emissions influence payable road tax
A car’s CO2 emissions determine the rate of vehicle excise duty (road tax) that you will need to pay. Electric vehicles are exempt until April 2025, but self-charging and plug-in hybrids are not. Make sure to check the emissions of your preferred car to determine its tax band.
3. Virtual vehicle purchases are classed as “distance sales”
Buying a car online without physically visiting a retail premises is considered a “distance sale”. This type of transaction is governed by the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013, which provides certain rights to the buyer. For example, you have two weeks to return the car if you change your mind, but be aware that there may be deductions for any usage during the first days of ownership.
4. Electric vehicles offer buyers more choice than ever
Most manufacturers now offer fully electric vehicles as part of their line-up. The choice of EVs at different price points is far more extensive than it was only a few years ago. If you’re considering an EV, make sure to shop around, read reviews, and try them out for yourself before making a purchase.
5. Never buy a car without doing your homework
Take your time to research the vehicles that suit your practicality and comfort needs. Read reviews and information available online. Use test drives to determine if the car fits your requirements, such as accommodating child car seats, pushchairs, bicycles, and golf clubs.
6. The Motor Ombudsman’s Garage Finder
Not all retailers adhere to the high standards of service required by The Motor Ombudsman’s Motor Industry Code of Practice for Vehicle Sales. Use The Motor Ombudsman’s online Garage Finder to find an accredited franchise dealer or independent retailer. If you encounter any issues during the purchase process, you can call on The Motor Ombudsman’s free and impartial Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) service for assistance.
7. Check all paperwork carefully before signing
Before making any purchase, it’s crucial to read all paperwork thoroughly. Verify that all information is correct and understand the terms and conditions. Pay attention to the small print, especially when it comes to deposits, as they are often non-refundable.
8. Various ways to pay for a car
Aside from purchasing a car outright, there are other means of financing a vehicle. Consider options like taking out a loan with a bank or opting for a Hire Purchase (HP) or Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) arrangement. Understand the merits and disadvantages of each financing type, as well as associated conditions.
9. Have a clear picture of longer-term affordability
When buying a car, take into account the longer-term running costs. Consider monthly finance repayments, charging tariffs for EVs and hybrids, fuel prices, breakdown cover, insurance, maintenance, and the cost of replacement components. Also, ask about service plans and extended warranties.
10. Range varies by EV make and model
The maximum range provided by an electric vehicle can be influential in the purchase decision. Make sure the car suits your planned usage, whether it’s for daily commitments or commuting. Inquire about factors that may affect the range, such as cold weather or in-car system usage. Also, ask about charging times and speeds.
11. Every question is a sensible one
Don’t hesitate to ask questions during your research and before signing any documentation. Whether it’s about the car’s specification, options and accessories, financing, or running costs, seek clarification. Test drives can also prompt further queries about the car’s functionality and performance.
12. Expect a possible wait for delivery
Although global supply chain issues have subsided, there may still be a wait of a few months from the point of ordering before the car arrives at the retailer. Be prepared to keep your existing car for longer or rely on alternative transportation methods during this period.
Bill Fennell, Chief Ombudsman and Managing Director of The Motor Ombudsman, emphasizes the importance of thorough research and careful consideration when purchasing a new car. With the significant financial commitment involved, it’s crucial to make well-informed decisions and be aware of the terms and conditions. By following these tips, you can navigate the car-buying process with confidence.