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RMIF launch new car buying guide

A new guide to buying a new car has been launched by the Retail Motor Industry Federation for consumers.

Sue Robinson, RMI franchised dealer director, said: “There are very good deals available, and with the first of the year’s number plate changes in March, this could be the time to get in contact with your nearest car retailer.”

  • Click on ‘next page’ to view the guide

    #AM_ART_SPLIT# Number plate system

    The number plate system works as follows: The first two letters correspond to where the car is registered in the country, LA to LY for London, and MA to MY for Manchester, for example. The next two numbers signify in which six-monthly period the car was registered, 55 for September 2005, 06 for March 2006 and so on, while the last three letters are random.

    What the RMI is telling consumers

    Looking for a car

    When looking for a car, there are a number of things to look out for:

  • Most newly-registered cars are sold with a full three-year warranty. But do read the small print. Also, RMIF dealers are obliged to provide a minimum level of warranty as a condition of their membership.

  • When comparing deals, use the on-the-road price which manufacturers now advertise. This is made up of the basic ex-works price, value added tax, number plate, delivery charges, and road fund licence, and first registration fee.

    Motorists should also consider the following check-list before and after purchase to make sure they have not overlooked the obvious. Since March 2001, the rate of vehicle excise duty has varied depending on the level of exhaust emissions produced by the car, so it is worth bearing this in mind.

    #AM_ART_SPLIT# Before buying

    You need to decide what sort of car you want:

  • will you carry goods or people or both?
  • diesel, petrol, or alternative fuel?
  • do you make long or short journeys?
  • do you have children?
  • automatic or manual?
  • small engine for economy or larger engine for power?
  • two, three, four or five door?
  • saloon, coupé, sports, estate, roadster, SUV (sports utility vehicle) or MPV (multi-purpose vehicle)?
  • are you worried about depreciation values?

    The choices can be baffling, but car magazines and reputable web sites should be able to answer any questions you have before you take the first step to a dealer to look at and test drive a car. But remember, it is not just about the car, it is about a car you can live with:

  • is your garage big enough?
  • confirm insurance class and area cost
  • understand fully the deposit terms, conditions of sale, any finance agreement including interest charge, and the trade-in price on your existing car and how long that price can be maintained
  • warranty terms – will there be restrictions?

    Test drive

    According to Robinson, potential buyers should take every available opportunity to test out the car they are interested in: “When exploring the market for your new car, remember the financial outlay is high, so make sure you ask for a test drive - many people don't. If you’re not a car expert, take a knowledgeable friend along with you. Some manufacturers now let you test drive a car over 48 hours, or sometimes even longer.”

    When you test drive, check:

  • is the seating position comfortable? Is there enough head room?
  • can you adjust the seat or steering wheel?
  • check vision, especially the A-pillar, and mirrors
  • road-handling, brakes, and steering
  • seat belts working and comfortable?

    If the car you have now tested and the advice you have had from the dealer fulfils your requirements, you should feel more confident about buying the vehicle.

    Buying the car

    Before buying, you should decide how to pay:

  • if you are able to pay up front, you can pay by either cash, cheque, banker’s draft, or on your credit card

  • finance deals let you pay by instalments, spreading the cost over a number of years, after which you can trade or keep the car

  • if you do not want to buy the vehicle outright, you can lease it via Personal Contract Purchase (PCP). Once the term is completed, you either hand the car back to the finance company, or you can pay the final settlement payment and keep the car, or use it as part exchange to buy a new car

    #AM_ART_SPLIT# At delivery

  • ensure you are given full familiarisation of the vehicle controls
  • get a copy of the pre-delivery inspection form
  • check driver's instruction book
  • check spare wheel and tools
  • check for any scratches or small dents
  • check lights, windscreen wipers, door locks, electric windows, security alarm, in-car sound system etc are all in good working order

    Check tax and insurance documents

  • check invoice is completed correctly
  • insurance cover note if required

    After buying – How the RMIF can help you

    Of course, just buying the car is only the beginning of the journey. Robinson explains: “Do remember that your new car will eventually need a service and it is vital, when having a service or any form of work carried out on your car, to use a reputable garage. If the supplying garage is too far away for such jobs, a local RMIF member would be happy to support you with service.

    “A member should be able to advise you on the type of service you need, and point out potential problem areas before they arise, or become serious. In fact, whether you want to buy or sell a car or motorcycle, service or repair your existing vehicle, find an auction house, or a cherished number plate dealer, the RMIF will be able to help you.

    To find a garage that is a member of the RMIF, visit and use the ‘Find a Service’ function. You will also find details of RMIF members that sell new and used cars or motorcycles, provide vehicle servicing and repair, and sell petrol.

    Motorists can also use the RMIF Consumer Motorline - 08457 58 53 50

    This will enable you to find all RMIF members mentioned above and, in addition, vehicle auctioneers and number plate dealers.

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