Has your child bought a death-trap?

The effect of rising fuel costs and credit-crunched budgets has lead to a flood of low-cost vehicles being sold privately.

Youngsters, who have little driving experience, are being tempted by these ‘bargains’ and so a timely reminder to parents has been issued to try to prevent them buying an unroadworthy car.

Three quarters of the used cars inspected by the RAC inspections team have faults that would cause the car to fail an MOT and a further one in three have potentially dangerous or illegal faults.

Nicola Johnson, manager for RAC Inspections, said: "Youngsters or first timers looking for a used car bargain are entering a minefield and are unlikely to have the right level of knowledge to know what to look for.

"This is where a mechanically minded friend or family member can help. Better still, parents or guardians would be wise to invest in an independent vehicle inspection which could ultimately save money or even a life. Over half of the vehicles we checked had more than [ten]10 faults. Even if they weren’t a risk to motorists’ safety, over 80 per cent of those with faults would cost more than £200 to fix, a headache a first-time motorist could truly do without."

The Trading Standards Institute (TSI) has also noticed a rise in the number of complaints. Peter Stratton, TSI lead officer for the motor trade said of its undercover operation and survey: "The poor condition of vehicles is a common contributory factor in road traffic accidents and this new survey shows that there are a lot of death-trap vehicles on the market. For every accident we can prevent by urging drivers to get cars checked before they buy, the better."

The advice to parents is to pay for as many checks as they can afford – motoring organisations such as the AA and RAC offer online document checks as well as full inspections from qualified mechanics. Urge your children to go back for a second look, rather than instantly shake hands on a deal. Travel to the place where the car is kept to verify the owners address, and only view in daylight.

Buyers beware!

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