Second Hand Car Buyer Advice – look at the tyres, don’t just kick them

Ireland’s second hand car market is booming with prices in the segment up more than 50 percent.

The surge in second hand car values in recent years is as a result of the perfect storm of the pandemic, the effects of Brexit in curtailing vehicle imports from the UK and the global semi-conductor shortage that has impacted the production of new vehicles. With many of the car brands quoting new vehicle waiting times of six months or more, it is clear that many buyers are looking to the second hand market for a ‘new’ purchase.

Buying a car – new or old – is a big decision, made by thousands of people every month. And those who go down the second-hand route have more to consider when it comes to making the right purchase, at the right price.

There are plenty of checklists online that you can take along and go through before buying a used car – covering the NCT and service history, vehicle registration certificate, as well as things like bodywork, fluid levels, upholstery, windows, electrics, accessories and tyres.

Take tyres, for example. Depending on their quality, the tyres fitted to the used vehicle when you buy it can have a significant bearing on its value.

Checking the tyres is critical, and it’s about more than just giving them a kick as you walk around the car.

It’s essential that you know how much tread they’ve got left – easy to measure with a €1 coin or by looking at the tyres’ tread wear indicators – and it’s important to look at their make and model, just as you’re interested in the make and model of the car itself.

And that’s even more relevant if you’re choosing a premium vehicle.

“All brand-new cars sold around the world are fitted with tyres that have been approved by their manufacturer. Vehicle manufacturers work closely with premium tyre brands like Continental to develop specific tyres that ensure every car they sell drives as it was designed to – with safety top of the priority list, as well as the need to meet particular requirements in terms of performance on the road, comfort in the cabin and fuel efficiency.

“If you’re buying a used BMW 1 Series for example, being able to identify whether it’s fitted with approved tyres – that are in good condition – will help you make a confident purchase. If a used vehicle has been driven and maintained correctly, there’s no reason why its second or third owner shouldn’t enjoy the same experience at the wheel as whoever bought it new," Tom Dennigan, head of Continental Tyres Ireland, said.

The good news is that for those in the know, there are some handy symbols on the outside wall of a tyre that tell you if it’s manufacturer-approved.

And while there isn’t one for every brand, tyres are clearly marked at the premium end of the market – tyres from premium brands like Continental are designed for premium cars like BMWs, Audis and MINIs.

“We’re always going to recommend that for the best experience at the wheel, drivers choose manufacturer-approved tyres. But we do understand that as a vehicle ages, its owner might be interested in saving some money on accessories. But that should never mean compromising on safety, however, it could mean opting out of certain features that are designed to enhance performance or convenience, and that come at a premium.

“Runflat tyres for example, have a reinforced, self-supporting side wall capable of covering 80 km in the event of a puncture, at a maximum speed of 80kmh. But if your car initially came with runflat tyres and you replace them with a more basic option, don’t forget you might be stuck if there isn’t a spare in the boot!

“You also need to inform your insurance company if you do make this change as it’s technically a change of specification to the vehicle – and if it’s still in warranty, the dealer needs to know, too," Tom Dennigan added.

Another puncture-busting solution is to go for tyres equipped with ContiSeal™, an innovative technology that seals 80% of punctures and enables drivers to cover a further 200km without a care.

And premium tyres don’t stop there. They come with features designed for comfort, too, like ContiSilent™ – technology that substantially reduces tyre noise inside the cabin by up to nine decibels.

Audi was the first manufacturer to fit its RS 6 Avant and RS 7 Sportback models with ContiSilent™ tyres, which have a foam coating bonded to the inside of the tread area.

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