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Motorists advised to spend time on research before buying a car

With so much choice on offer, which can be daunting for some, the Motor Ombudsman is urging motorists to do their homework when it comes to narrowing down their ideal car.

The automotive dispute resolution provider has compiled the following top tips to guide motorists through the new car purchase process:

  • Shape your future. There are many different body styles on the market today, so think about how you plan to use the vehicle – for pleasure, carrying the family around or the daily commute. Equally, if you live or drive in an area where weather conditions can be challenging, a car with all-wheel drive is another consideration. Furthermore, models often come in several variants, with different sized engines and a choice of petrol, diesel or an electric motor, or a combination of both (ie, a hybrid). As this will affect longer-term running costs, check the fuel economy (mpg), annual road tax (which is based on CO2 emissions) and insurance group classification.
  • Do your homework. In the digital age, the internet makes it easy to compare and see first-hand customer feedback about a car or retailer. Read and watch some road tests to get an idea of what a make or model is like, and shop around to find out what you can get for your money.
  • Look for the extras. When buying a new car, there are often added incentives to lower the initial cost of ownership. This can come in the form of free servicing for a specified period, or a vehicle warranty for up to seven years. Nevertheless, it’s advisable to understand the price of an intermediate and full service, as well as of tyres and brake pads.
  • Try before you buy. Taking a test drive is one of the best ways to find out if it a car is right for you, and to get a feel for how it performs on different types of roads. Being at the wheel is an ideal chance to gauge the level of comfort, visibility and space, and how intuitive the built-in technology is, such as the infotainment and navigation systems.
  • Money matters. There are many different ways to buy a car, and speaking to the dealership directly or browsing their website will help to point you in the right direction. Methods can vary from paying outright, to opting for a personal contract purchase, hire purchase or leasing agreement through the Motability Scheme if you qualify. Ultimately, you need to ensure the car falls within your budget and that any monthly payments will be affordable throughout the term of the contract.
  • Check the delivery. On the day of collection, walk around the car before leaving the forecourt. The bodywork should be free of scratches and scuffs, and the specification should be in line with what you ordered. Just as important, make sure you are given all the correct paperwork, including the final invoice, a receipt of any payments, V5C registration certificate (logbook), drive away insurance policy (if it’s been offered by the dealer), plus the handbook and servicing schedule. The handover is also an opportunity to ask for a refresher on the car’s controls.
  • “In-depth research is critical when it comes to buying a new car as it’s a significant purchase,” Bill Fennell, Chief Ombudsman and MD of The Motor Ombudsman, said. “It’s therefore essential that the vehicle ticks all the boxes, and it’s that consumers are confident that the retailer will provide the highest level of service and quality during the purchase process and beyond. This is where being accredited to a Code of Practice can make all the difference for a business versus the competition.”