Scent and sensibility

A new poll by AA Cars has found that nearly a quarter of drivers have been put off buying a second-hand car because of its smell.

Wet dog, children’s sick and stale cigarettes were all cited as off-putting smells by an AA/Populus poll of 18,741 AA members, which asked whether they have ever been deterred from buying a used car and why.

The poll showed that almost four in ten (38%) respondents have not followed through with a purchase because the service history either had gaps in it or revealed a lot of past repair work. The poll also found that 24% of men and 18% of women have walked away from a purchase because of an incomplete service history.

A further 38% were being turned off because the bodywork was in poor condition and almost a third (31%) withdrew from a purchase because of a less than perfect interior.

Test driving a car is an important part of the buying decision for many people, and more than a third (37%) have not proceeded with buying the car because it didn’t feel right on the test drive. One in nine (13%) pulled out of a purchase because the seller wouldn’t let them take the car out for a test drive.

Comparing age groups, the poll reveals that over 65s are most likely to buy a used car that isn’t in mint condition, while 18-24 year olds are least likely to buy if the bodywork and interior of the car are in poor condition.

Paul Yates, managing director of AA Cars, said, ‘Buying a used car shouldn’t mean buying a bad car but there are simple checks you can do, whether you’re buying through a dealer or privately.

‘Ask to see the service history, and if it’s incomplete or shows lots of repair work, that could be a warning sign. A history check will also rule out insurance write-offs and stolen cars. We automatically remove these vehicles from AA Cars.

‘If you’re unsure if a car is in good mechanical condition or not, it’s worth having an independent inspection carried out through a reputable company such as the AA, or buy through a dealer who has independently inspected cars. From our experience, an independent inspection allays most fears and ensures complete transparency when buying from a dealer.’