Thinking of buying a used car? Take a look at thebestof Cambridge's top tips before you do!
30th September 2013
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Cambridge resident, Lorna Brighton shares her experience of buying a used car...

Oh how excited I was! After four long years of being 'car-less' my husband and I had scraped enough money – and credit – together to finally buy me a car. 

Now as I work from home, I am lucky in that although the past four years have been difficult and inconvenient, a car wasn't essential. But with a manic toddler fast approaching the years of weekly birthday parties, mini football, swimming trips and the like, coupled with the prospect of a cold and wet autumn and winter with nothing but a buggy, an umbrella and thick clothing, I was well overdue for some 'new' wheels.

So off we trotted to a dealership. I had my heart set on a little Mini Cooper and having scoured Auto Trader for weeks, found a place a good hour away that specialised in affordable used BMW Minis. I found a quirky blue and white Mini Cooper with a lot of miles on the clock but a full service history. With the promise that extensive checks would be carried out before we returned to pick it up, I happily signed on the dotted line.

Fast forward two weeks... I had been driving my car for just over a week and all seemed fine apart from the fact that it would suddenly pull to the left every so often. Now I am a very sensible person and had already asked a friend who was also a mechanic to give it the once-over for me. After all, I'm not going to drive long distances in a potentially unsafe car with a toddler on board. 

Having given it a thorough check, she found a few issues – one of the fog lights wasn't working and a wheel bearing had gone. All in all, she said, a good little car but she told me to contact the dealer asap about the problems as they would be covered under the warranty and there was no way she would be happy with me driving the car until the wheel bearing had been replaced.

Obviously I wasn't at all happy as I had only had the car for ten days. So I called the dealers straight away, to be told that they not be able to do the repairs as they could be termed as 'wear and tear'... on a car I had been driving around Cambridge for just over a week! Obviously I argued my point and reminded them about the extensive checks they had apparently made which should have uncovered these issues. They said they would discuss it with the 'powers that be' and then call back. So I waited.... and waited. Hours passed and I finally called again to be told that I needed to send an email with all faults listed. Which I did. And then I waited... and called... and left another message... and called.... and waited.... (see a pattern emerging?)

More than two days, many messages and a lot of harsh words had passed before I finally managed to get them to take my car in to be fixed. Almost a week later I am now without a car and hoping that they do what they promise, although my faith in them really couldn't be much lower. More than likely I will be taking it back to my friend to double check that they've done a proper job before I risk taking it on any long journeys.

So what's the moral of the story? Well, I suppose there are a couple. One, make sure that the used car dealership comes recommended by others. After my experience I Googled the name and couldn't find any reviews at all, which I should have done before as it would have raised a few warning flags.

Whereas Manchett's and Priory Garage Vehicle Sales in Ely near Cambridge has 214 recommendations! Alternatively, the Jardine Motors Group has been going since 1969 and has showroom locations in 75 sites across the UK, so you can be assured of a highly professional, experienced service from their staff on Coldhams Lane in Cambridge! 

Plus of course, a used car warranty is only worth something if you find any issues before the end of the agreed warranty period. I would urge you to do what I did and book your car into a reputable garage as soon as possible to make sure that it is safe and roadworthy. 

Recommended garages in the Cambridge area include C and R Autos, M & T Auto Services, and Heath Road Garage.

And if you do choose to buy a vehicle from a garage you're not overly confident in, then please, spend just a little extra by getting it HPI checked (only about £15 and you will ensure that the car isn't stolen, hasn't been in an accident, has no finance left on it, has X amount of owners etc). I can at least be confident in that!

About the Author

Ian C

Member since: 9th July 2012

I run thebestof Cambridge. My aim is to help make the best local businesses shine! Afterall, they are the best for a reason worth shouting about. Outside of work I enjoy playing football, swimming and...

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