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About to go car shopping...

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I have a budget of £1500 max (ideally around the £1200 is better). I'm pretty set on a Mk5 fiesta of some description as I've owned one before and I know how to fix some of the usual niggles.


Anyways, I know that budget puts me right in the rent-a-wreck area of the market, I'm just wondering if anyone can give me any tips on not getting ripped off?


I am probably going to buy from a dealer on credit card as they seem to offer better protection than cash (I'd pay my card off more or less immediately).


Any way to check how good a garage has been with aftersales? Has anyone ever had one of them RAC inspections done? I know on what's likely to be a ten year old car there will be niggles, but will dealers generally fix minor niggles before sale? I just really don't want to end up with something with a burned gasket a week later, there's very little budget for major repairs after the fact...

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Take a recorder with you - such as your phone and record everything which is told to you about the condition of the car.


Make sure that you get assurances and proof that the car is theirs and that there are no debts on the vehicle. Make sure that you see the car's papers in advance of the deal and that you are given them straightaway. Don't accept a promise that you will be sent them in the future.


See if you can get the details of the previous owner and call him and ask about the car and what the condition was when he sold it.


That's for starters

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Also take it for a good long test drive and try/check everything to make sure ok.

Get new mot on it by dealer, and see advisories before you pay for it.

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It's not started too well...the first dealer advert I phoned, I could barely get him to admit that it was a car... lol...


I have a couple of Fiestas lined up for tomorrow then. Two X plates and a 51 in varying miles from 78 to 110k.


Are them RAC inspection things worth the money? I was thinking as the most expensive I've lined up is £1149, I could fit one into the budget... worth doing or waste of money?


I'm not a total dunderhead with cars, but I'm no mechanic either... more a Haynes Manual warrior

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Will dealers generally agree to performing an MOT on a car without me paying up a dime of deposit? Even if the car already has an MOT?

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Interesting point. It is a buyer's market. Insist on a 12 month MOT. Also, check the tyres carefully, are they just legal or will they last a while? Are they fairly evenly worn?

Look at the exhaust, is it a just about complete rusty appendage or a nice shiny piece of steel?

The interior of a car gives away many clues. If tatty and worn, then the chances are the car has had a hard life.

Is the oil on the dipstick an black sludge or a liquid that lubricates?

Remove the oil filler cap. Is the underside fairly clean? if it has a white mayo like substance, walk away.

Is the battery looking fairly new? Are the terminals greased or a corroded mess. If the latter, it points to poor care and an old battery.

Look carefully at the front brake disks, is there a lot of wear, indicated by a flange around the edge?


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One tip I carry over from my car dealing days. If the car you look at has 4 matching tyres in good condition, you can reasonably sure the previous keeper actually cared. By 4 matching, I mean exact same make and size etc. If the car has 4 different tyres, all different wear depths you can be reasonably sure the previous keeper just did the bare minimum to keep the car on the road and no more.


This has proved good for me many times.

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These are excellent tips! Thanks guys.


I managed to check out only one fiesta today, the guy didn't seem at all interested in carrying out a new MOT as the current one has six months left. I didn't notice about the tyres, though. Should I press for 12 months?

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I am not so hot keen on the 12 months MoT as it is effectively worthless IMHO. I know of an MoT tester who barely glances underneath the car. Certainly does not carry out the MoT to the same level as many others I have seen. So, don't put to much confidence in that single piece of paper!


Better to have the car inpsected by someone who knows what they are doing on your behalf. Preferably a mechanic you know rather than AA or RAC inspection.

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