Buying a Used Car?
If you buy a used car privately, it’s a case of ‘Buyer Beware’. You don’t have the same legal protection as when buying from a dealer. It’s up to you to ask the right questions and check the car thoroughly before you buy.
- Can the seller show you the V5C registration document? You won’t be able to tax the car without it.
- Is the seller the registered keeper shown on the V5C? If not, why are they selling it for someone else?
- Does the registration document have a watermark?
- Any spelling mistakes on the registration document?
- Do the VIN (vehicle identification number), engine number and colour match the V5C?
- Does the number plate match the V5C?
- Has the VIN plate been tampered with?
- Do VIN numbers etched on glass or lights match the VIN plate and V5C?
- Any sign of scratches on glass to remove etched-in marks?
- Does the fuel filler look as if it has been forced or replaced?
- Does the car have a current MOT (if the car’s more than three years old)?
- Does the mileage, age and appearance of the car look consistent?
- Any sign like worn screws that the instruments might have been tampered with? (Digital odometers can be tampered with electronically so clues like this won’t exist)
- Check recorded mileage on service records, MOT ‘certificates’ and other documents.
- Does it look consistent with current mileage/condition and increase steadily year on year?
- Any signs of inconsistent gaps between panels or mismatched colours that could be a sign of extensive repairs?
- Is the paint finish even across the car?
- Any traces of paint spray on handles, window seals or plastic mouldings?
- Could the car’s colour have been changed? (Look under carpets and in other hidden areas in particular.)
- Any unusual looking welding under the bonnet or in the boot?
- Are the tyres in good condition and all of the specification and dimensions? Tyres with less than 3mm of tread will have to be replaced soon.
- Is the spare wheel or tyre inflator/sealant kit in serviceable condition?
- Are the jack and other tools present?
- Do all the seatbelts operate correctly? Check there are no cuts or fraying that could affect the way they work.
- If airbags are fitted, Check that warning lights operate as described in the handbook – normally they will come on with the ignition and then go out?
- Do all lights and windscreen wipers/washers work correctly?