When you drive for a living, the vehicle you use becomes an essential part of your world, and has to meet all of your crucial criteria. From safety to comfort, you cannot compromise when it comes to your car, which means that choosing the right one can be a really important decision.
If it is up to you to provide your own vehicle, you may well be considering the second-hand market, and be wondering where on earth to start. There are so many used-car dealers out there, and so much bad press about the industry as a whole, you could be forgiven for feeling apprehensive about this purchase. How do you know the dealer won’t diddle you, passing on a faulty model with a hidden massive mileage? Aren’t all second-hand car dealers corrupt?
Although in the past, scams and dishonest dealings in the industry were rife, the past twenty years have seen a huge improvement in standards. Far less dealers are lone, dishonest, ‘Arthur Daley’ figures operating without company controls and background checks. Nowadays, many of the smaller operations have been consolidated into large dealership groups, who build up loyal customer bases. Particularly trustworthy are the big, franchised groups, who aim to provide the same quality of service across all of their chains, and who have the manpower and finances to carry out the most comprehensive checks on the vehicles they’re selling. As with other service industries, these dealers want to woo their clients rather than cheat them, and will engage in customer satisfaction programmes and take consumer complaints very seriously.
Also on your side as a consumer are organisations like the AA and the RAC, who can carry out used-car inspections and offer very useful information on the process of buying second-hand cars. Several schemes provide additional peace of mind, such as the Approved Car Scheme, adopted by many car dealers these days. If a car has been approved onto this scheme, it means that it is a low-mileage, high-quality vehicle that has been thoroughly checked for faults, and repaired where necessary, and has had a comprehensive check of its history too. You can also find out whether the car in question is one of the models safety-tested under the Euro NCAP system, and what rating it was awarded. For added reassurance, you can check with the Retail Motor Industry Federation to see if your dealer is a member.
Using reputable car dealers certainly beats falling out with your family over the awkward issues of money and mileage when cars change hands, and trying to figure out which private sellers are the trustworthy ones. With research indicating that one in five private sellers have told lies about the cars in order to make a sale, it’s important not to get the wrong dealer.
These days, consumers and car dealers alike are much more aware of their rights and of the regulations surrounding used-car transactions. And the Office of Fair Trading and Trading Standards are cracking down on any dodgy dealings they find, taking action against sellers found to be failing to adhere to the law. So you can rest easy that, as long as you pick a trusted car dealer with a good reputation, you can be fairly sure you’ll get yourself a great second-hand car to suit you, at a price you can afford.