What exactly is an AA report and who owns the company? 

Everyone knows what an AA report is, but how does an AA report fit into buying a used car? Firstly, let me explain that the AA is a non-profit organization, who do not have any shareholders. I will get back to AA reports in a moment. First we need to understand some legalities.

There are three basic ways to buy a car.

  • Cash as its stands with no warranty and no roadworthy certificate. This is usually restricted to the lower end of the price spectrum and cars bought at auctions.
  • Cash with a roadworthy certificate.
  • Financed with RWC and a limited warranty or an after market extended warranty.

Which option will suit me best?

OK, so what is the best way to buy? It all depends on your individual circumstances. For example, if you are an experienced mechanically minded person, the first option might well be best for you. 
As a rule, most private sellers will sell to you on a cash/as it stands basis and you will have no recourse to the seller if you have any mechanical problem. 

Dealers, as a rule, will sell their cars with a RWC and often with a short warranty. When dealers sell a car on a financed basis, they are obligated to provide both a RWC and a written warranty. Most dealers offer a variety of extended warranties for a 1 or 2 year period which the buyer has to pay extra for.

When and how should I ask for an AA Report? 

Imagine for a moment that you are the seller and someone has negotiated a price with you and you have agreed to provide a RWC only and no warranty. The deal is done and two weeks later the buyer is back on your doorstep, armed with an AA Report. He waves this in your face and demands that you attend to every item marked on the report. Obviously this is wrong as no prior agreement had been made to include that and then we have a problem - an unhappy buyer and an unhappy seller. 

So, if you are one of those uncertain buyers and you want to have the vehicle AA tested, please ensure that you negotiate that upfront with the seller. The seller has no obligation whatsoever to attend to any AA faults found if he has agreed to provide only a RWC. Having said that, most reputable dealers are willing to run through the report with you and attend to anything that appears to be unusual or falls under the safety category, but few will attend to every single item marked. And rightly so. 

Who should carry the cost of the AA test?

Always the buyer, unless arranged otherwise. Be willing to pay for the AA test, whether you buy the car or not. It might be money well spent if the car has a lot of faults.

Is the test cheaper if I am an AA member?

Yes, almost 50% cheaper. The AA test is comprehensive but fairly pricey - especially if you are not an AA member. 

Are there alternatives to an AA report?

Almost any registered car workshop would do an evaluation of a car's mechanical state for a lesser fee than the AA charge. That is also an option, but please state your terms of business BEFORE you sign. It's a real curved ball to throw at a dealer after the sale has been concluded. It is basically the same as moving the goal posts