Delivery day is bound to be exciting, but it’s also vitally important that you stay cool and calm. You could otherwise overlook all sorts of important issues that could affect the car’s value and your legal position. In all cases we would say, pay a deposit initially to reserve and order the car, but don’t pay in full until you have seen and inspected it closely.
Checking a new car
You might not think that very much needs checking on a brand new car, however plenty can happen to it leaving the factory and being put on a transporter and off again. Usually most problems are dealt with during the Pre Delivery Inspection (PDI), whether it is body damage or a mechanical issue. Sometimes though, items can be overlooked or damage could happen minutes before you arrive.
Look at the invoice and ensure that the specification is the same as has been ordered. Occasionally an order code can be typed incorrectly and a buyer will get the incorrect option, so tick everything that you’ve ordered against the original order form that you signed.
Examine bodywork and interior
Look closely at the bodywork for any damage or what seems like fresh paint. If you have any doubts at all ask politely to see the PDI forms which should record what was checked and if any remedial work was carried out.
New cars traditionally have what is called a ‘delivery mileage’ amounting usually to less than 100 miles. There may be circumstances though where it may have been transferred between dealers by road. If the mileage seems very high to you then ask.
However disappointed you may be at not collecting your new car, if there is a problem, you must reject the car until the issue is resolved. If the car is not what you ordered then there is a breach of contract.
If you don’t think you are up to checking over a new car, especially if it is a very expensive one, then getting a qualified engineer to look at it would not be unreasonable.
Checking a used car
The important thing here is what you agreed with the car dealer. A year’s MOT, repainting a dodgy door, replacing an iffy battery? Ideally you should have written this into the original contract that you signed.
Make sure you get as much history with the car as possible, such as the service records and old bills, any MOT certificates, instruction manuals and things like that. This will make your car easier to resell in the future. Don’t accept any excuses, such as the dealer will post them on, because they probably won’t!
Examine bodywork and interior
Remember this is a used car, and you may well have missed the odd scratch or minor dent. It is perfectly possible that it could have been dented while cars are moved around on the forecourt. If you believe that there is fresh damage then refuse to take the car until you are happy with the standard of repair.
Never pay the balance of the price you have agreed with the dealer until you have inspected the car and are completely happy.
Checking a private car
All the same rules apply to buying privately, with one very important exception, you have virtually no legal comeback. Unless the seller has misrepresented or lied, the car is sold as seen, so be extra careful.
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