In collaboration with Car Guide
How confident do you feel when it comes to buying a new car? Are you the sort of person who spends hours researching and comparing running costs, doing a thorough car check and looking into the MOT history of each potential purchase? Or maybe you just buy the first one you see in a blind panic and hope for the best?
I’ve spent most of my life in the second category.
I’ve essentially just applied my principle of second crappest and kept my fingers crossed. Sometimes I’ve not even done that, like the time I bought a 20 year old metro on eBay, unseen, for £87. Or there was that time with the satsuma, which it’s best we don’t dwell on.
Basically when it comes to buying new cars, I’m scared. I know nothing about cars or what I’m meant to be looking for in a new car, and so I bury my head in the sand. ‘Do you not even get a free HPI check?’ you may ask. No, no I do not. Honestly, I’d not even heard of an HPI check until I wrote this post. I can just about manage an MOT check for dates, (mainly because I forget for my own car’s and have got good at checking), but I have no idea how to check car history, what questions I’m meant to ask a seller, what repairs to expect at different points in a car’s life – nothing.
I WANT to feel more confident buying a new car though. I do so many other things completely on my own, I feel like I’m letting myself down when it comes to cars. I feel like I’m letting WOMANKIND down. It’s just a car, I need to pull myself together and get some SKILLS, especially if I’m going to realise my midlife crisis dream of buying and renovating my own campervan. (I may not have mentioned this yet. Let’s save this as a story for another day.)
If your feel the same way as me about buying a new car then BUCKLE UP – I’m about to take you on a rollercoaster of a ride around the world of car checks.
Why should I use a car checker?
An excellent first question! Why is it important to get a car check? Doing a car check is a really simple way to boost your car confidence and should be a first step when you’re thinking about buying a new car. A free car check can quickly highlight serious issues like whether or not the car has had a plate or colour change, been exported, might be an ex-taxi – all the classic red flag stuff that you want to avoid when buying a new car.
Doing a quick car check online can help rule out the real bloopers. (Wouldn’t it be good if you could do an online check for potential new partners? Pop in a few basic details and find out if they’re secretly married, have a history of being an absolute loon, that sort of thing. I might write that down as a business idea.)
Can’t I just Google a cheap HPI check?
Well I can’t stop you, obviously, I’m not your mother, (unless this is you reading Bee, in which case I am, but still can’t stop you.) Keep in mind though that not all car checks are created equally. So how do you find the best car checker?
Obviously I can’t claim to have tested every single car check service, but I HAVE had a lovely long chat with the founders of Car Guide and found out all about what makes their car checker different from a lot of the others. I was impressed, not least because Mima, one of the founders of Car Guide, has three cats just like me, AND I got to meet one of them – Tabitha – on our Zoom chat. I find it very hard not to trust someone with three cats.
What’s so good about Car Guide?
Um, did you not read about the cats?
Okay fine, you want non-cat related credentials, I get it.
Mima and her founding partner Olli both have strong backgrounds in the automotive industry, and they came up with the idea for Car Guide because they wanted to fill some of the gaps in the market. Car Guide basically has MORE DATA than anyone else and scrapes sites that other people don’t.
Let’s take the HPI check for example – lots of people will do these for new cars and think they are getting all the info, but they’re wrong. As well as potentially being expensive, HPI checks don’t show up unrecorded accident damage. The Car Guide checks DO show this.
Car Guide is also the only car check that shows previous and upcoming servicing (based on manufacturer service schedules) and repairs and how much they will cost. This is great for budgeting and could help with negotiating a better price if a major service hasn’t been done for example or if an expensive repair is coming up.
How much does Car Guide cost?
Getting down to the nitty gritty already eh? I like it.
There are a few different ways in which you can use Car Guide. If you want a completely free service you can still get loads of key information about your potential new car. Car Guide don’t call these ‘basic checks’, because even with their free car check you get more information than you do anywhere else.
For exactly ZERO pounds you’ll get:
- Full MOT History
- Imported / Exported info
- Ex-Salvage Register Check
- MOT Failure Prediction
- Plate & Colour Changes
- Date V5c Last Issued
- Detailed Technical Data
An excellent start, I’m sure you’ll agree.
I found the MOT check especially useful as I hadn’t realised my MOT was due by the end of July – that’s booked in now, just in time. Car Guide also reminded me that on my last MOT I had an advisory because Joey’s car seat was in the back and they couldn’t test that seatbelt. The report didn’t actually say ‘Joey’s car seat was in the back’ – Car Guide’s technology is smart but not creepy.
How smart exactly? Really smart. Car Guide is powered by Impair.ai, a unique machine learning platform that predicts which components are likely to fail at the next MOT, which is great for budgeting and negotiating a better deal when buying a car, or in my case just feeling prepared. It literally predicts the future, like a car wizard.
This is the sort of info you get, all still within your free account:
Even though I’m not buying a new car and am just using my current car as an example, I actually found this information quite empowering. Normally I go into a service or MOT with absolutely no idea of what to expect, but just having this, and feeling more familiar with the language and the type of thing that could come up, it made me feel immediately more relaxed about it.
What do you get in a full Car Guide buyer’s report?
If you want to go more in depth than the free car check, your other option is to pay for a full buyer’s report. The most cost effective way to do this it to buy 30 days access for just a £10.99 one off payment.
For this you get everything in the free account, plus unlimited car checks, allowing you to shortlist and compare as many cars as you like. Once you’ve narrowed down your choices you then get TWO full buyer’s reports, which include:
- Outstanding Finance Check
- Insurance Write-Off
- Stolen or Scrapped
- Upcoming Repairs and Costs
- Service Schedules and Costs
Two of my favourite bits about the full Car Guide buyer’s report are the ‘questions to ask’ and ‘the test drive’ sections, because this is really where normally I fall down buying a new car.
Take my last car for example, which was an old Renault Clio. I literally went to a second hand car place down the road and picked the second crappest by price – it cost me £1,500. I took it for a test drive and it drove. Box ticked. I peered under the bonnet a bit but honestly NO ONE was convinced. I clearly knew nothing. I was a sitting duck.
Car Guide gives you enough information to sound like you might not actually be a easy a target after all. The ‘questions to ask’ section suggests key things to ask to help you get the information you need from the buyer and potentially put you in a stronger place for negotiation.
The ‘test drive’ section takes you step by step through all the things you need to pay attention to, like testing the car starting from cold, documents and figures you need to check and proof of repairs to ask for. This bit is especially interesting as it details standard repairs you’d expect to have seen on the car, based on mileage and age. If these repairs haven’t happened, chances are they will need to soon.
All of this information is giving you confidence but also power – when you feel like you know what you’re doing and what you should expect from the car you can do a better deal and save money. Chances are you’re going to be saving way more than the £10.99 the report cost you, so it’s a no brainer as far as I’m concerned.
How much will my new car cost to run?
Another excellent question! You might not think that a car checker service would go into details like this, but the Car Guide buyer’s report does. (It’s beginning to look decidedly good value next to a standard HPI check isn’t it?)
Car Guide’s smart technology looks at historical and predicted data about your car and others like it, and works out an estimate for you of how much your car should cost to run. Pretty handy right? Also reassuring for me that I’m paying about what you’d expect on my three year MOT and service package. (I’ve never had one before so I’ve never been entirely sure.)
And that’s about it. Phew!
That was actually a lot of words wasn’t it? I didn’t mean to bang on, but I wanted to give you all the information I could.
What I will just say finally is this – sometimes I write about products or services and think ‘oh okay that’s cool’ and sometimes I write about them and I KNOW I will go on to buy them again or use them regularly. Car Guide is one of these. When the campervan savings pot fills up I will definitely be spending £10.99 of it on Car Guide car checks. I feel like I’d be stupid not to.
Find out more now at Car Guide.
This post was so useful thank you! I get so nervous when I have to do something like buy a new car, I feel really out of my depth!
Glad it was helpful Ali, I feel totally the same, it’s WAAAAY out of my comfort zone!
As someone who knows nothing whatsoever about cars lol, this is super useful and practical. Thank yoou so much for posting!!