Used and abused

Here at MTI we like to address all the issues surrounding the motor trade so here’s a piece of advice for all those thinking of buying an older used car in the near future, and by old I don’t mean a Ford Sierra or Vauxhall Cavalier but something that’s outside the manufacturer’s warranty and maybe on its second or third owner, typically five years or more.

With all the thousands of cars advertised weekly in the motoring press and on the net you’d think getting a good buy would be easy wouldn’t you? But if you can’t stretch to that nearly new motor and an older vehicle is the only way forward, think again.

The recession, although officially now over if you are to believe the politicians, hit people hard and fast all over the country, and none more so than the motorist. Petrol has continued to rise beyond all proportion, road tax has increased on all but the newest and most frugal vehicles, servicing costs have gone up to absurd levels at some garages, and every year it seems the statutory M.O.T. test gets ever more stringent, If you then factor in the rise in household utility bills and food costs it soon becomes apparent that savings have to made, and the car is usually the first to bear the brunt of any exercises in frugality.

At our dealership, over the last year or so, we have noticed a huge increase in the amount of vehicles being part exchanged that have been run to within an inch of their lives by owners trying to cut costs and save some money, even though this can be a false economy at best and outright dangerous and illegal at worst.

The most common of these cut backs are a necessary item that we all have to purchase at some time in our cars life, the trouble is you need four of them and cost wise that can add up. Even at £50.00 a tyre (at the cheaper end) that’s a hefty £200 out of an already tight budget. So naturally some people are pushing the envelope so to speak and all this year we have seen tyres worn to unbelievable levels, many worn well past the wear indicators and into illegal territory.

Then it’s on to brake pads, again down to the very last wear point and again many literally “metal to metal” clutch plates worn to the point where they slipped with any pressure applied or if not you just know they are going to in a very short time. Oil so thick and black you could resurface a road with it, and just about every dashboard light you can imagine lit up like a Christmas tree.

We have even seen black paint put over the cluster on more than one occasion because as a customer told us “the light got annoying after a while so I painted it out!” and don’t think this is confined to the oldest of the old vehicles either. Just last week we had a 2004 41,000 mile Volvo that needed over £1,000 spent on it just to make it retail worthy and a 2005 Nissan Micra with 46,000 miles that needed new tyres all round, a new clutch, and discs and pads, we sent that one to auction.

Best of all though (or worst of all depending on your opinion) was a gentleman who wanted to exchange his 2003 Peugeot 406 diesel, it had done in excess of 80,000 miles but even so that was no excuse for all four tyres to be down to the canvas and calling them bald would have been polite in the extreme, especially as it had eight months M.O.T still left on it and a child seat in the back! We won’t get started on that one and needless to say we didn’t take it in part exchange.

So when you go looking for that used car this weekend take the time to look a little further than the shiny paintwork and valeted interior, have a close look at the tyres, is the service history book up to date and if not does it at least have some receipts or bills for recent work? If you can see through the wheel rims have a look at the brake pads and discs, are they up to scratch? Does the car have any engine management lights or A.B.S. faults showing up on the dash? If so speak to the dealer and ask them if they intend to put right any faults you are not happy with, any decent dealer will happily rectify and prepare their vehicles before offering them to the public anyway and you can always try and factor a full years M.O.T. into the bargain and a decent warranty if you are not completely happy.

You’ve read the books, seen the shows, been online and just read this article, all of which should hopefully be of some help to you the next time you buy that shiny new motor, but remember, there’s nothing wrong with used, providing its not been abused.

Happy Hunting!

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