Security checks are really important when you’re buying a used car. Taking the time to verify that the vehicle comes from where the seller says it does and that the documentation matches the details of the car not only gives you peace of mind, it also saves a lot of potential trouble further down the line. Here are a few checks you can make before you agree to purchase a pre-owned car.
- If buying from a dealer, ask them to confirm via a commercial database that the car has not been reported as stolen or written off, and that it is not still under a finance agreement. If buying privately, or for extra reassurance, you can contact HPI Group Ltd to check the status of the vehicle. There is a small charge for this service.
- Ensure that the seller can provide the registration document (V5C) – it’s a legal requirement for them to do so and if they can’t, walk away. When you look at the document, check that the details match those of the car – registration number, chassis number, engine number, make and model.
- Check MOT documents and, before buying, verify them online at www.gov.uk/check-mot-status-vehicle. To do this, you’ll need the car’s registration number and either the MOT test number of the V5C reference number. Also check that the car’s service history is up to date and keep an eye out for any signs that suggest the documents have been tampered with.
- Check that the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) in the vehicle body matches that on the VIN plate or sticker. Then check that both match the recorded VIN on the V5C document. Look for signs of tampering around the plates and etchings
- Make sure the car hasn’t been ‘clocked’ – where the seller has wound back the milometer. The recorded mileage should tally up with what’s on the service and MOT history, and take a look at the car’s general condition to see if the mileage on the clock seems fair. Numerous stone chips and worn upholstery can be an indication of high mileage.
- If buying from a private seller, arrange a viewing during the day at their home address so that you can confirm it is the same as on the V5C. Be wary if the seller insists on meeting you away from their home and take a friend or relative along to the viewing as a second pair of eyes.
- Ensure you are properly insured and take a test drive in the vehicle before committing. That way, you will be able to find out if there are any immediate problems with the vehicle’s mechanics. Pay attention to steering and braking, as well as the sound of the engine.