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#AskRebecca for help buying a car

Welcome to our new How to Car Q&A series – I’m Rebecca Chaplin and I’m here to answer your questions about buying a car.

– Is there a good time to buy a car?
– What documents should a car come with?
– You just don’t know how to take the first step?

If this sounds like you, please send me a question at
If you would like to learn more about our Q&A range, please click here

Buy a car – Answers:

Q: Do I need a valid driver’s license to buy a car? What other documents would I need as a buyer?

A: This is an answer in half, because technically you don’t need a valid driver’s license to buy the car, but you do need it for some other parts of the purchase. For example, if you’re a learner driver, you might want to buy a car that you will learn to drive in at some point. Or maybe you’re a parent who doesn’t drive but you could still buy a vehicle for your young adult to use drivers if they happen.

A driver’s license is not strictly required, but you will need some form of ID so the seller can verify who you are and you will need it so your insurance company can drive the car away. Nowadays this can be easily sorted over the phone or on the internet with your cell phone, but it is worth doing some research beforehand.

It’s more about the documents you leave behind as a buyer. The seller should give you the V5’s new registered Keeper receipt. This is proof that you are the new keeper in case you get stopped before the actual new V5C document arrives. You will be asked for your driver’s license number on the V5 form, but this is optional. You can now do this online too and you will receive a copy by email.

You should also try to obtain the available maintenance data, general documentation, spare keys and wheel nuts. When buying privately, these things are easy to forget and a pain to return for.

Q: Is it rude to ask for money for the price? I’m always a bit scared of negotiating a price while looking at a car, but is this what dealers expect and is there a realistic percentage of the price to ask – without being seen as rude or time consuming?

A: Buying a car – especially from a car dealer – is actually a lot easier than you think.

It’s a bit like buying a new phone, microwave, or toaster. When you show up in a store, you may know everything about a product, but often we have questions and luckily there is an expert to help you.

Most car dealers place a high value on the pricing of their cars and have done so for years so that they are not too high or too low. If you go to a car dealership and you are worried that you will have to cut the price, it really is not. However, if you want to be armed with some pricing knowledge, there are a few ways to get started.

The easiest way to correlate used car prices is with houses, and like these, car prices change with the market. Find the car you want on and consider why some are cheaper than others.

If cars sell before you can even contact the dealers, you must be willing to pay the asking price or you will likely need to be asked to jog. You’ll find that there are probably hundreds of pounds between some examples of the same car, but – back to those houses – if it’s a bit of a Fixer upper, it won’t be worth as much as one with a brand new kitchen – and the like applies to cars.

That doesn’t mean you can’t negotiate, but being armed with that knowledge will help you. If you think a car is really overpriced, it’s okay to tell the dealer what you’re willing to pay and see if you can meet in the middle. If a car has been around for a long time, the seller may be ready to hit a deal to develop it further. That said, if you ask hundreds or even thousands of the price for no good reason, you will not find a favor.

For more information on paying the right price for a car, see the Vehicle Price Guide

Q: Do used cars come with warranties?

A: Used cars don’t come automatically with warranties, but what is known as the Consumer Rights Act 2015 provides additional protection for the first 30 days. If something goes wrong, you need to tell the dealer who sold it to you that they have the option to fix it for free first. If you take it to another garage and ask the dealer to pay for that work later, you might find yourself paying the bill.

If you shop privately, you won’t get any of these benefits. However, when you buy from a dealer, you will often find that they have a warranty included. If you are considering two cars and one comes with a longer warranty, this comes in handy. Don’t take it for granted, however, as “free warranty included” may not mean more than a few months while others could last up to a year.

It is also possible to purchase a used vehicle warranty for your car either from the dealer or from a warranty company. It is important to check what is under warranty and what are the most common mistakes for your new car as you may not be insured for some likely results.

Rebecca has been writing about cars since 2014 and was a car fanatic from a young age with a number of unusual daily drivers or static additions in the driveway. She carried that passion for buying, selling, and maintaining into a career specializing in cars of all ages. She has written for consumer publications such as Auto Express and Car Buyer, and for commercial publications such as Car Dealer and Motor Pro. Now she often writes about the problems and difficulties of auto auctions for classic car buyers and auto mechanics.

April 19, 2021


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