Checklist of buying second hand car – tips and advice to buy a used car

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Even in the event you do not know anything about how a car works, you will find issues that you are able to look out for prior to you purchase a car, to check that it’s safe, legal and in a reasonable condition. Use our checklist to ensure that the car is worth buying – and if not, do not be afraid to walk away.

Safety and condition

Assess the car in daylight as rust spots and dents may not show within the dark. Take it for a test drive. Take someone with you in the event you do not know a lot about cars.

Checklist of buying second hand car - tips and advice to buy a used carIf a car has been in an accident, it might be unsafe. Occasionally, two damaged cars are welded together to produce a new one. You will find businesses that will tell you regardless of whether a car is an insurance business write-off. You are able to generally discover details of these businesses in motoring magazines. Selling a car that has been classified as a category C or D write off without making this clear to the consumer is an offence under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 and you need to report this to your local trading standards. You might also have a claim against the trader where the car fails to correspond with any description given.

Stolen cars

If you purchase a stolen car, the police can take it from you to return it to the real owner or the insurance company. You’ll not get any compensation even though you bought the car in great faith. You are able to sue the seller for your losses, but this may be challenging in the event you bought privately and also the seller has disappeared.

Also, in the event you bought the car on credit, you might still need to pay off the loan – it depends on the kind of agreement you’ve with the seller.

It could be tough to tell regardless of whether a car is stolen. Its identity might have been changed. For instance, the identity number and number plate of a legitimate car might be transferred to a stolen one. Vehicle registration documents could be forged or obtained by fraud.

But you will find tell-tale warning signs to look out for:

  • The seller can’t produce the vehicle registration document (V5) – a typical excuse is that it has been sent to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) for updating. This might be true – for instance, the seller might have changed address recently. But be wary: it means you can’t check the car’s ownership and identity details.
  • If the seller claims the car was bought extremely recently and also the V5 is with the DVLA for the change of ownership to be recorded, the seller ought to have a green slip (this applies only to cars issued with V5s from March 1997).
  • There are spelling mistakes or alterations on the V5, or it doesn’t have a watermark.
  • The name and address on the V5 are various to those on the seller’s driving licence, passport, or recent gas or electricity bill
  • The three primary identifying numbers listed below do not match the numbers on the V5:
  • The vehicle registration mark (the number plate).
  • The vehicle identification number (VIN) – this could be discovered on a metal VIN plate, generally within the engine compartment, and stamped into the bodywork under the bonnet and also the driver’s seat. As a security measure, some cars have the VIN etched on their windows or lamps.
  • The engine number.
  • The engine and VIN numbers have been tampered with. Areas of glass might have been scratched off the windows, or stickers might cover up etching which has been altered.
  • The seller can’t show you the insurance policy for the car.

Cars still owned by a credit company

  • A car bought on hire buy or conditional sale belongs to the creditor until the payments have been completed. In the event you purchase such a car, the lender can take it back. You are able to sue whoever sold you the car, but only in the event you can discover them.
  • There are only a couple of exceptions to this. In the event you had been not conscious the car was subject to an outstanding hire buy agreement and bought it in great faith, you might be allowed to maintain it. This doesn’t apply to stolen cars or cars which are subject to a hire agreement. Contact Consumer Direct for professional guidance on this subject.
  • There are businesses that will tell you if a car is clear of any outstanding finance deals. You are able to generally discover details of such businesses in motoring magazines. If you’re purchasing from a dealer, ask regardless of whether this check has already been carried out.

Clocked cars

Low mileage could be a promoting point, but the clock could be turned back used car tipsto decrease the variety of miles shown and falsely improve the worth of the car. Dealers occasionally safeguard themselves by covering up the odometer or issuing a disclaimer saying that the mileage might be wrong to be able to disclaim liability for future issues. Examples consist of, stating that the mileage ‘may not be accurate and ought to not be relied on’ or that the mileage ‘is incorrect and ought to be disregarded’. A dealer ought to not routinely use such disclaimers as a substitute for carrying out correct mileage and history checks, so be certain to ask the dealer what checks they’ve carried out on the car and what they’ve discovered out concerning the mileage.

If the mileage is low but put on and tear on the car looks heavy, the car could have been “clocked”. Clockers occasionally alter pedal rubbers, steering wheels and gear knobs to hide this. An additional sign is the fact that the odometer numbers do not line up properly.

You will find a number of methods you are able to discover out concerning the history of the car:

  • Check MOT certificates and service documentation for mileage readings taken by mechanics.
  • Get in touch with prior owners named on the V5 and ask what the mileage was when they sold the car.
  • Get mileage info from automobile check businesses that study the car’s history (you are able to discover these in motoring magazines or on-line).
  • If purchasing from a dealer, ask regardless of whether the dealer has utilized trade-only database businesses like IMVA and VMC to check mileage.

Checklist – Buying a car

Run via the checklist below when buying a car and deciding whether a car is worth purchasing. In the event you discover yourself answering ‘yes’ to lots of questions in one or much more sections, it might be greatest to walk away. In the event you do not really feel confident about carrying out these checks yourself, get an expert’s opinion.

The car’s situation

  • Are sills, wheel arches and door bottoms rusty?
  • Is paintwork failing?
  • Are there oil leaks or damaged hoses/drive belts beneath the bonnet?
  • Are tyres damaged or worn?
  • Are seat belts worn out? Do they’ve faulty mountings?
  • Do door and window seals show indicators of leaking?
  • Are electrics (lights, dashboard warning lights) faulty?

Has it been in an accident?

  • Have physique panels been repaired?
  • Is colour/texture of paintwork patchy or various on particular panels?
  • Has welding been carried out on the engine/boot?
  • Does the boot close correctly all of the way round?
  • Have repairs been carried out on the boot (check beneath carpet)?
  • Has the car’s identity been changed?
  • Has VIN quantity been tampered with?
  • Have locations of glass been scratched off windows, head lights, tail lights, sun roof?
  • Are windows etched with incorrect VIN?
  • Do stickers conceal altered etching?

Test drive (Make sure you’re insured for the test drive)

  • Are brakes defective?
  • Does car pull to one side whenever you brake?
  • Do brakes squeal?
  • Are there other unusual noises?
  • Is hand brake defective?
  • Does steering wheel shake/vibrate?
  • Does car pull to one side?
  • Is altering gear challenging?
  • Does gear lever skip whenever you brake or accelerate?
  • Does clutch grab or slip?
  • Does engine sound various if clutch is pressed when car is idling?
  • Is there a powerful smell of petrol or oil?

Following the test drive (Open bonnet and let the engine idle)

  • Does engine rattle or make other noise?
  • Are there water or oil leaks?
  • Is there blue or black smoke from the exhaust (indicating a badly-worn engine)?
  • Is there grey smoke from the exhaust (indicating water leaking into engine)?

Has the car been clocked?

  • Are milometer numbers out of line?
  • Is put on and tear heavy, given the mileage?
  • Have pedal rubbers/gear knob/steering wheel been changed?
  • Does the mileage on last MOT certificate contradict the milometer reading?
  • Does the mileage on service documentation contradict the milometer reading?
  • Does the mileage when car was last sold contradict the milometer reading?


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