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Buying a used car

Tips on what to watch out for

Buying a used car is an intimidating prospect for many consumers. The fear of dodgy deals and the fact that you could be buying someone else’s problems make the hunt for honest value seem daunting.

The AA advises all potential used car buyers to avoid side-of-the-road sales and go to SIMI dealers, to buy an AA Autocheck car or failing that to have the vehicle professionally inspected before purchase. No reputable seller will object to an independent inspection. 

Many publications carry ads offering second-hand cars for sale. Most are genuine but unfortunately there are still unscrupulous dealers posing as private sellers. If you decide to make contact, say that you are asking about 'the car for sale'. If he has to ask you which car then he is a dealer. Having blown his cover, steer clear of his car!

Never buy a car in the dark as this easily conceals various blemishes and possibly even evidence of accident damage. A key fact that you want to be sure of is that the car has not been involved in an accident. No matter whether its from a private individual or from a dealer ask the critical question, preferably in front of a witness “has the car ever been crashed or had any bodywork repairs carried out whatsoever”. The response given has significant legal implications.

The National Car Test (NCT) was introduced to Ireland in January 2000 and since then the quality of used cars in Ireland has improved greatly in recent years.  All cars now need to undergo and NCT after four years initially and after two years thereafter. This has meant that it is no longer possible to run ‘rolling wrecks’ on Irish roads.

There is very good value to be found in the second-hand market. For every new car bought in Ireland almost 2.5 second-hand ones bought and most people are happy with the results. You have to look out for the pitfalls, do the homework and remember the maxim caveat emptor – let the buyer beware.

Alternatively take advantage of AA Autocheck and let AA do the work for you!

AA Autocheck

AA Autocheck is a quality assurance scheme for used cars. Dealers undertake to perform a very detailed inspection designed by the AA that examines the car under 101 separate headings. The AA then monitors those dealers very closely with regular spot inspections to ensure that standards are maintained. The consumer knows that the car that he or she is buying has been thoroughly checked by a system that is designed and regulated by the AA.

What to look for in a second hand car - pro tips

  • Check the body lines for consistency
  • Look for any evidence of repainting, such as overspray on window rubbers or any inconsistency in the paintwork
  • Check for uneven tyrewear
  • Look out for different makes of headlights
  • Watch for different consistencies of stonechips over the front of the bonnet compared to the adjacent wings.
  • Examine carefully the wear at the pedal rubbers, the gear stick and the steering wheel
  • Closely examine the odometer for any sign of interference
  • Make sure the keys provided operate in all of the locks and that there is a spare set.
  • Try all keys provided in the ignition and make sure that they start the engine – as occasionally a 'cut' key is not a 'transponder key' or micro-chipped to work in the ignition.

AA Ireland Limited trading as AA Insurance is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.