A gift for being prepared

The Motor Ombudsman urges car buyers to do their research during the festive season when buying a new car. The Motor Ombudsman is therefore providing consumers with the following top tips to help steer them in the right direction.

Look out for accreditation to a recognised Code of Practice

Choosing a retailer that is accredited to a recognised Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI)-approved Motor Industry Code of Practice for Vehicle Sales, such as one of the thousands that are listed on The Motor Ombudsman’s online Garage Finder (TheMotorOmbudsman.org/garage- finder), means that the business has committed to higher standards of service and workmanship beyond those required by law.

Beware of going private

You may get a cheaper deal when buying a car from an individual rather than a business, but it’s worth bearing in mind that your rights against a private seller are much more limited than if you had bought the vehicle from an independent garage or dealer.

Keeping your distance

If you buy your car online, by phone or by email, and the whole deal, including signing the forms and paying your deposit or the price of the car, takes place without you visiting the business, this is called a distance contract by the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013. These regulations are in addition to your other consumer rights and give you 14 days to return the car from the date of delivery for a full refund without having to give the retailer a reason. Remember that this only applies to sales done at a distance.

Read, read and read again

Before handing over a deposit or any form of payment, read the order form or contract of sale thoroughly to make sure that all details are correct, that the price and specification match the information advertised by the retailer or the options that you have chosen, and that you are aware of any additional fees on top of the cost of the vehicle.

Put everything in writing

For anything that’s agreed with a business in relation to a vehicle purchase, it should be written down in a formal document, letter or e-mail. That way, if a dispute arises, you have proof of everything that was discussed.

Fuel for thought

What you plan to use the car for, and the mileage that you will be looking to cover each year, will help to determine whether you opt for a traditional petrol or diesel-engined vehicle, or a hybrid/plug-in hybrid or fully electric model.

It warrants knowing your warranty

Before buying, it’s important to know what is and what isn’t covered by the agreement in the event of a claim and what you need to do in order to keep the policy valid, even when making payments. This includes following the recommended servicing schedule for your car.

Figure out how much you can afford

Car buyers have lots of different ways to finance a vehicle, so it’s important that you choose an agreement which is right for you and your circumstances. Make sure to read the agreement in full before signing on the dotted line to understand whether the deposit, the monthly instalments and the interest rate that you will be paying meet your budget, plus any obligations from your side, like staying within an agreed mileage limit.