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RMI Car Buying Advice

Wed, 27 Dec 2000
Anticipating a rush of buyers back into the market in the New Year, the Retail Motor Industry Federation has issued the following advice:-

The new car market is currently a hotbed of spectacular bargains following recent extensive price cuts, and now prices in showrooms have finally begun to stabilise.

So the forecast for 2001 is that it will be an exceptional year in which to buy a new or used car. And this March sees the introduction of the new Y registration, marking the end of the current registration plate format which has historically provided all sorts of personalisation opportunities. This March will be the last chance to take advantage of the current plate format.

Winter and early spring are very good times to look around for used cars that are in plentiful supply with motorists trading in their older vehicles in part exchange for the latest models. More cars in the market mean keener prices as well as greater choice, so used car buyers will find shopping around very much to their advantage. A good motor trader should offer you a fair part exchange deal on your traded-in car and will also subsequently provide efficient and reliable service and repair facilities.

The quality of modern cars, the purchasing deals like free insurance, zero per cent finance available from some manufacturers and very attractive prices all add up to a package to satisfy buyers across the spectrum of customer needs.

It is extremely important to use a reputable dealer for buying a new car and particularly a used car.

Dealers that are members of the Retail Motor Industry Federation (RMI) pledge to observe the Code of Practice for the Motor Industry and to abide by the RMI obligatory membership standards.

What to look out for

A newly-registered car is sold with a warranty, usually for one year and with the option to extend it to two or three years. But do read the small print. On used vehicles it is the dealer who provides the warranty, probably between three and 12 months depending on the age and general condition of the car. RMI dealers are obliged to provide a minimum level of warranty as a condition of their membership.
When comparing deals use the on-the-road price which manufacturers now advertise. This is made up of the basic ex-works price, value added tax, number plate, delivery charges and road fund licence.

When exploring the market for your new car, remember the financial outlay is high, so always take advantage of dealer offers of free test drives and consider the following worthwhile check-list before and after purchase to make sure you have not overlooked the obvious. In March 2001 the rate of vehicle excise duty will vary depending on the level of exhaust emissions produced by the car, so it is worth bearing this in mind.

What sort of car do you want?

Will you carry goods or people or both?
Diesel, petrol, or alternative fuel?
Do you make long or short journeys?
Do you have children?
Automatic or manual?
Small engine for economy or larger engine for power?
Two, three, four or five door?
Saloon, coupé, sports, estate, roadster, SUV (sports utility vehicle) or MPV (multi-purpose vehicle)?
Are you worried about depreciation values?

The choices can be baffling, but most car magazines should be able to answer any questions you have before you take the first step to a dealer to look at and test drive a car.

Before purchase

What sort of car do you want?
Will the car fit the garage?
Confirm insurance class and area cost
Will there be a price increase due to delivery delay?
Understand fully the deposit terms, conditions of sale, any finance agreement including interest charge, and the trade-in price on your existing car and how long that price can be maintained

Take a test drive

Make sure you ask for a test drive - many people don't. If you're not a car expert, take a knowledgeable friend along with you. Some manufacturers now let you test drive a car over 48 hours. When you test drive, check:
Is the seating position comfortable? Is there enough head room?
Can you adjust the seat or steering wheel?
Check vision, especially the A-pillar, and mirrors
How is the road-handling and do the brakes feel safe?
Seat belts working and comfortable?

If the car you've now tested and the advice you've had from the dealer fulfills
your requirements you should feel confident about buying the vehicle.

Buying the car

Before buying you should decide how to pay:
If you have the 'readies' to pay up front, you can pay by cash, cheque, bankers draft, or on your credit card
Finance deals let you pay by instalments, spreading the cost over a number of years after which you can trade or keep the car.

At delivery

Ensure you are given full familiarisation of the vehicle controls
Get a copy of the pre-delivery inspection form
Check driver's instruction book
Check spare wheel and tools
Check for any scratches or small dents
Check lights, windscreen wipers, door locks, electric windows, security alarm, in-car sound system are all in good working order
Check tax and insurance documents
Check invoice is completed correctly
Insurance cover note if required

Do remember that your new car will eventually need a service and it is vital - when having a service or any form of work carried out on your car - to use a reputable garage, whether you return to the dealer who sold you the car or use a local independent garage.

To find a garage that is a member of the RMI, call the Consumer Motorline - 08457 58 53 50. If you have access to the internet, you can search for a member garage or dealer at and by clicking on Find A Service.

If you are looking to buy or sell a new or used car or motorcycle, get a vehicle serviced or repaired, attend a vehicle auction, find a petrol retailer or a cherished number plate dealer call the RMI Consumer Motorline or log on to the website.

Shop around and you will be sure to find an outstanding deal on a new car for 2001. Don't miss out.

The Retail Motor Industry Federation represents the interests of operators in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man providing sales and services to motorists and businesses. The RMI has a formal association with the independent Scottish Motor Trade Association which represents the retail motor industry in Scotland.


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