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Car buying checklist
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Checklist for buying a new car

Sep 27, 2019
8 min reading time

Changing your car is something you do on average only once every 5 to 7 years. So it's okay to take some time. It is not limited to choosing the best car at the best price. When buying a brand new or used car, you will also have to pay attention to a number of other things. We offer 12 points of interest that will significantly increase your chances of a successful purchase.

  • Check the reliability of the car company

The last thing you want is to buy a car with hidden defects, patched damage or a reversed odometer reading. But how do you know in advance if a car dealership is reliable? First, you can rely on your intuition by looking around the dealership. If you have a doubtful feeling, it is better to look for the exit right away. But even if the first impression is fine, the employees are friendly and your dream car is in the showroom, you should never sign a purchase agreement the same day. It is recommended that you quietly do some online research about this car dealership at home. A simple Google search can yield a wealth of information, such as quality seal ratings and experiences of previous buyers.

  • Does the car meet your needs

Determine well in advance what you expect from your new car. Think mainly about the interior space and seating, luggage space, step height, safety features and shifting system (manual or automatic). Also determine what power the engine should have and what fuel economy you would like. And of course, you need to know in advance what design (model, trim, color, interior, dashboard, etc.) best suits your ambition. It is useful to put all your wishes on an A4 sheet or save them in your smartphone. That way, when you look at different cars, you can make a good consideration very quickly.


Man with car key in his hand.
  • Take a test drive in your new car

Even before you seriously consider a purchase, it is important to take an extensive test drive in the car. When doing so, make sure that you not only drive on city roads, but also on country roads and a highway. This will give you a good impression of the road handling and driving comfort. To properly assess the car's suspension, even include a road with slight bumps. Other things you may pay attention to include entry, legroom, steering, shifting (when shifting manually) and road visibility. Do you have a family? If so, bring them along on the test drive. Cars often react differently with more people on board. Don't hesitate to request a test drive from the same company for more than one car.

  • Compare the car with cars from the same year of manufacture

If you have found the ideal car, of course you want to know if the asking price is realistic. Compare it with the asking price of other cars of the same model and year. You can do this by checking online advertisements. If 'your' car is more expensive, you will have to haggle with the seller. Is 'your' car much cheaper, then the sale is probably too good to be true.

  • Check odometer readings

The odometer reading says a lot about a car. Namely, it indicates how intensively the vehicle has been used. An average private individual drives their car about 15,000 km per year. If you come across a car that is 7 years old and has only driven 65,000 km, the engine has been reasonably spared. If a car of the same age has already driven 170,000 km, then the engine is basically running low. A gasoline engine typically lasts only 200,000 to 250,000 kilometers. Odometer readings are often tampered with by car sellers. Fortunately, the National Auto Pas (NAP) records the odometer history of almost every car. If in doubt, for a fee of €2.99 you can request the history of a car on the website of the NAP.

  • View the MOT report

If you buy a brand new car you don't have to worry about the MOT (General Periodic Inspection), but with a used car you do. For cars with a gasoline engine, an MOT report is required after 4 years and for diesel and LPG cars after only 3 years. Always ask for the MOT report and check when it expires. If the expiration date is near, you will have to have a new inspection carried out soon. The MOT inspection itself costs only a few tens of dollars, but during the inspection small defects often come to light (dried out tires, uneven braking, play in wheel suspension, etc.) that will need to be fixed. With this fact, you can negotiate a discount on the price of the car.

  • Negotiate the price

By nature, car dealers have a driven to even aggressive sales style. Do not be intimidated by this. Be aware that your position as a buyer is considerably stronger than that of the seller. After all, you have a choice of dozens of equivalent cars at other dealerships. This opens up the possibility of negotiating the price of the car. With some tact, you can also get accessories and other extras free of charge. Ask about all the terms of delivery before you sign the contract. Because after the sale is closed, you completely lose your bargaining power.

  • Purchase Agreement

A purchase agreement is a document that buyer and seller can fall back on in case of any problems. Therefore, have all details and agreements included in this agreement, such as the purchase price, the model and type of car, the engine and chassis number, the color, the mileage and the accessories that are included. The delivery date and warranty terms should also be clearly described. Most car dealerships also place general terms and conditions with rights and obligations in the contract of sale or purchase. If the company is a member of the trade association BOVAG, these provisions are standardized. If the company is not a BOVAG member, it is advisable to read the general terms and conditions carefully.

  • Delivery time

With car companies, there is almost always a delivery deadline. For a brand new car this is often a few weeks and for a used car it is usually a few days. Have the agreed delivery period included in the purchase agreement. Also check if the car company is a member of the trade association BOVAG. This allows you to cancel the purchase agreement without legal intervention if the seller does not deliver the car within the agreed period.

  • Warranty

When you buy a new car, you always get a manufacturer's warranty, usually for 2 or 3 years. During the warranty period, the representative/seller makes sure that defects in the vehicle are repaired. For a used car, warranty is not a given, even when you deal with a car dealership. It is a good idea to ask about warranty terms for specific defects, such as engine damage, transmission damage and air conditioning damage. Make sure the terms are detailed in the purchase agreement. After all, within a warranty period, you don't have to prove anything.

  • Road tax

If you own a car, you pay monthly road or motor vehicle taxes. As soon as you buy a new car, you must report it to the tax authorities. Fortunately, these days this can be done very easily online. The amount of road tax depends on the weight of the car, the type of fuel (gasoline, diesel or LPG), the environmental pollution of the vehicle and the province in which you live. Online, you can easily calculate the premium in advance. For example, you may decide to buy a slightly smaller car (lower weight) to save a few tens on road tax on an annual basis.

  • Get car insurance

To take your new car on the road, you need car insurance. In the Netherlands, you must have at least third-party insurance. This covers any damage you cause to others. With Full-Casco or All-Risk insurance, the insurer will also reimburse you for your own damages. For a used car older than 5 years, such optimal coverage is usually no longer profitable, because the annual premium is quite high.

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