Contacting the seller
Friday 16 July 2010
The all-important first phone call to a seller can reveal lots about the car for sale, but only if you ask the right questions.
Don’t be afraid of asking plenty of questions – a few minutes on the phone is better than a morning viewing a car that’s not right for you.
Questions to ask:
• How many owners has the car had and how long have they owned it?
• How many miles has it covered?
• How would they describe the condition? Ask them to describe any damage or mechanical problems
• How long does the MOT and road tax have to run
• Does it have its V5C registration document (logbook), service history, old MOT certificates and any bills or receipts?
• Has it been involved in any accidents or stolen?
• Does it have any outstanding finance?
• Has any maintenance recently been carried out on the car?
• Does it need any maintenance in the near future? For example, are the tyres almost worn out, or is the engine’s cambelt due to be replaced?
If you’re buying from a private seller, a helpful trick is to ask the seller if “the car is for sale”. If they ask which car you’re referring too, the chances are you’re dealing with a trader in disguise – they could be trying to off-load a car without taking the responsibilities required of them by law.
Always view a car at the seller’s address – a trader’s place of business, or a private seller’s home – and check private sellers’ addresses correspond with the details on the logbook.
Arranging a viewing
• Always view the car in daylight and when its dry – darkness and raindrops can hide damage
• Tell the seller if you want to arrange a professional inspection after seeing the car yourself
• Don’t be pressured into paying a deposit before seeing the car
• Tell the seller you want to take a test drive, and make sure you arrange suitable insurance cover
Telesafe is a service offered by Auto Trader to stop canvassers contacting sellers. Telesafe numbers replace sellers’ own phone numbers and costs vary according to whether the number is directed to a mobile or landline.
The cost of calling Telesafe numbers is outlined below in pence-per-minute, but calls from mobiles can cost more.
Number range Day Evening Weekend
0872 5.67p 3.02p 0.93p
070 37.50p 25.00p 12.50p
More in-depth buying advice: