Buying and selling

How to choose a reliable used car – and avoid one that may break down

Reliable used car

Drivers may be tempted to imagine that the most reliable cars are the most expensive models from the poshest brands. But the latest independent surveys of car owners suggest otherwise.

Audi, BMW and Land Rover can be found languishing at the bottom of tables ranking the most and least reliable car makers. And budget brands, including Skoda and Suzuki, are often given the highest ratings.

It means that when buying a used or new car, drivers should do their homework carefully. If they don’t, they run the risk of their car being off the road and unexpected repair bills.

To help inform car buyers, we’ve got some top tips on how to choose a car that won’t let you down.

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MOT: half of drivers don’t realise government check service is free

MOT test

The annual MOT is vital to ensure cars are roadworthy

When is your car’s MOT test due? If you don’t know the answer to that question, you’re not alone. A new poll has revealed that a quarter of drivers (27 per cent) don’t have a clue when their current MOT runs out.

Although the Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) automatically sends drivers reminders about when their road tax is due, there is no such service for MOTs. Instead the government has an MOT check website. However, nearly half (47 per cent) are unaware of it according to the survey by Carbuyer.co.uk.

It’s easy to check when your MOT test is due

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Buying cars? People think it’s like snakes and ladders

Car buying

Up until a couple of seconds ago, he’d set his heart on the black Golf…

Buying cars is full of pitfalls with the vast majority of people expecting it to be hard work. And as they get further down the road, nearly two thirds of buyers give up through the sheer mental exhaustion of the process.

A major study, conducted by used car sales website Auto Trader  spoke to buyers during the car buying process to identify the pain points we all face.

How we buy cars

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Which is best? Automatic gearbox, DSG, CVT, or automated manual

automatic gearbox

There are various automatic gearboxes on the market, but which is the best? (Picture © Kia)

Once upon a time, drivers simply had the choice between manual or automatic gearboxes. Now for anyone who wants to let the car’s electronic brain take the strain, there are a variety of different self-shifting gearboxes available.

Thanks to advances in technology, automatic gearboxes have become far more efficient. And as they can accommodate more ratios – some have 10 speeds – they help drivers to save fuel too.

Here we explain the difference between the four main types of automatic gearbox and look at the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Automatic gearbox

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Virtual reality letting buyers test new models without the car there

Test drive a Mazda CX-5 using virtual reality

Taking a test drive is one of the most exciting things about buying a car. But most drivers will agree that waiting months for a new model to arrive in showrooms, and having to go from one car dealer to another, invariably giving up their Saturday or Sunday in the process, is a chore they could do without.

That could soon become a thing of the past. New technology is bringing the car to the customer. Without even leaving home, it is now possible to conduct a test drive from the comfort of a favourite armchair – thanks to advances in virtual reality.

Car makers including Audi, Ford, Mazda, Peugeot and Volvo are experimenting with virtual reality as they look for new ways to entice car buyers. Here’s why it could play a part when you buy your next car.  Continue reading

Is part exchanging your car for a new model the easy way to sell it?

Part exchanging

Part exchanging your car for a new model can be straightforward

The car buyer’s conundrum has long centred around whether part exchanging is the best way to sell a used car. A few years ago, it could be more profitable than selling a car privately for some sellers. And it’s always been the most convenient. But is that still the case? We investigate part exchanging cars.

What is part exchanging?

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How to cancel vehicle tax and reclaim any that’s not been used

How to cancel vehicle tax and reclaim unused road tax

Anyone who was driving before 2014 may turn misty-eyed at memories of tax discs. Brightly coloured pieces of paper used to be displayed in the windscreen, to prove a driver had paid vehicle tax.

In addition to serving as a quick and simple visual reminder that car tax needed to be renewed, it let authorities easily check whether Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) had been paid. And there was another benefit to it. Anyone selling a used motor could charge for the remaining car tax that was to be enjoyed by the new owner. Alternatively, drivers buying a second-hand car could use the need for new tax to haggle down the price of the car.

In the digital age, that’s no longer the case. Anyone that sells their car and has outstanding VED on it should reclaim the amount paid from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). For the same reason, those buying a new or used car must tax it before they can legally drive away.

But it’s not only when drivers sell their car that they can reclaim tax. If a motor is being taken off the road, scrapped, declared a write-off by an insurance company, or stolen the tax can be reclaimed. Here’s how. Continue reading

Undercover shoppers ask if it’s too easy to get car finance with shock result

Undercover shoppers ask if it's too easy to get car finance

The young driver walked into the Audi showroom and gazed at the gleaming new cars. They looked a million dollars, but unfortunately the 24-year old driver was unemployed and didn’t expect he’d qualify for a loan to buy a new model. He was wrong.

Within minutes, a salesman says he’s confident that a new Audi A1, worth more than £15,000, could be the young man’s. Spend £215 a month, for 48 months, and he can hit the road. And after a final payment of nearly £7000, the car is his for keeps.

Despite being unemployed, the process of securing a loan to own the car was predicted to be straightforward.

A salesman says not having a job won’t make any difference. He explains: “We drop it down to the finance company, they’ll do a credit check on you. It’s not a case of you not having a job today and having a job tomorrow. We just need to see what the finance company says.”

However, the young man was an undercover reporter for the Daily Mail. He was one of a team that visited 22 dealerships. And the findings were prompted the question: is it too easy to get a car loan?  Continue reading

Car buying online: your next motor could come from an internet dealer

car buying online

Peugeot already has an online car buying platform

The way we purchase our motors is changing with car buying online becoming increasingly popular. There’s no shock in that. What is perhaps surprising is that the move to buying over the internet is taking such a long time. New figures from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) show that figures for web car sales are currently miniscule. But within the decade a fifth of all new cars will be bought online. Here’s all you need to know about the online sales boom.

Surely you can buy cars online now

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Car safety equipment: the key kit drivers want to be fitted as standard

Car safety equipment

Car safety equipment such as self-braking can stop cars crashing if the driver isn’t paying attention (Picture © Thatcham)

More than four out of five drivers want safety equipment such as automatic braking to be standard on new cars. And safety campaigners are urging drivers to buy only cars with it fitted as standard. They hope this will pressure car makers into fitting the tech more widely.

Currently, only one of Britain’s top 10 best-selling cars – the Mercedes-Benz C-Class – comes with automatic braking as part of its normal equipment. But research has found that when it’s an optional extra, car buyers ignore it. Instead they favour more tangible everyday kit such as sunroofs or upgraded sound systems. And according to studies, a fifth of car buyers refuse to pay extra for safety equipment.

Despite this, researchers for Stop the Crash found that 83 per cent of drivers actually want safety kit such as automatic braking to be standard. Chairman of Stop the Crash David Ward said: “This research shows how important safety is to the consumer. But it highlights how this often fails to translate into safety options being purchased in the showroom. Manufacturers must offer safety systems as standard with proven ability to save lives.”

What is automatic braking?

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