4.6/5

326 reviews

Buying a used car? Read this first

There are steps that you can take in order to avoid purchasing a car with severe damage, theft, or illegally altered. These steps will help you to get a car that won’t fail.

You can save yourself time and money by performing the necessary checks.

Be sure that a trader you are dealing with is trustworthy

You should not buy from a trader, a company that sells cars.

  • Look for a reputable firm with a strong reputation.
  • Look for signs indicating that they are a member of a trade organization (e.g., the Retail Motor Industry Federation and the Scottish Motor Trade Association). This means you can contact a trade group if there is a problem.
  • Look for traders whose cars have been inspected and certified by an independent engineer.

Buy from an auction

The riskiest way to buy a used vehicle is through auctions. The legal protection you get if you purchase through a trader (for instance, the right of returns and refunds) is not available to you.

Before you place a bid, make sure to read through the terms and conditions of the auction house.

Examine the history of a car

You can reduce the chances of purchasing a car that has been illegally sold or has suffered major repairs by doing some basic checks. It is also possible to determine if the car’s current owner owes any money.

It’s quick and easy. This should be done regardless of where you purchase your goods.

1. Check DVLA details

Ask the seller about the car’s price:

  • Registration number (on the number plate).
  • The number for the MOT test
  • Mileage
  • Make and model

To verify that the information you are being given by the seller matches what is in the DVLA’s records, use the DVLA’s online vehicle info checker.

You can ask the seller for clarification if the details are not correct. It might just be a small mistake. If you are suspicious that the seller has given you false details, you should not buy the car.

2. 2. Check the history and MOT

Regular MOT testing is necessary to ensure that vehicles are safe on the roads. It is important to check that the MOT tests have been performed regularly over the vehicle’s lifetime (most cars older than 3 years require an MOT test each year).

View the MOT history for a car. This is a completely free service.

Ask the seller about gaps in the MOT. If you are unsure of the MOT history, don’t proceed with the deal. If a car was not used for a certain period of time and was registered as SORN (statutory on road notification), it might not need an MOT.

3. Do a private history search

A private history check sometimes called a “data check”, is a great idea. This will provide valuable information about any serious issues the car may have. This will cost you up to PS20.

It will let you know if:

  • The car was reported as stolen.
  • The seller still owes money for the car
  • The car was involved in an accident that resulted in serious injury.
  • The car has the correct mileage
  • The car was written off, then repaired, and returned to the road.

Search online for sites that can check your vehicle details to get a history check of your car.

Take a look at the car and test drive it

It’s best to arrange to see the car in daylight. If the car is wet, it will be harder to spot any damage. Meeting at the home of a private seller is a great idea. This will allow you to keep track of their address in case something happens after you have purchased the car.

The helpful checklist of the AA provides guidelines for inspecting used cars and their paperwork. Ask about the car’s history of service.

It is a good idea to test drive the car. To do this, you will need to ensure that your insurance covers the car.

Check with your insurance company if you have car insurance. You might be able to drive a car without insurance if you are a trader, private seller, or broker. They will need to verify.

You should drive for no less than 15 minutes on each type of road. For test drives, the checklist from the AA can be used to help you remember what to do.

Get an independent report if you are still unsure

You might consider looking for a different car if you are still unsure.

You can also get an independent report about the car. This report will provide you with detailed information about the vehicle’s condition, and it will run around PS100 to PS200.

Motoring organizations and specialty companies can provide independent reports. Call the Motor Ombudsman to find out where you can get one in your area. Motor Ombudsman, a self-regulatory body that is supported by the government for the motoring sector, is an example of government-backed self-regulation.

The Motor Ombudsman
Telephone: 0345 241 3008

The transaction occurs when you purchase the car

Do not be afraid to negotiate the price. Start low and let the seller raise the price. Be calm and only spend what you can afford. If you feel pressured or pressured to pay more, you can always cancel the deal.

The Money Advice Service offers useful advice on how you can negotiate when purchasing a car.

You should ensure that you have the original and not a photocopy of:

  • The logbook (the V5C registration document)
  • The valid MOT test certificate

The logbook is essential for any car purchase.

There are many ways to pay

When deciding how to finance a used vehicle, there are many things you should consider.

Pay cash

Take this into consideration:

  • There are no additional fees or interest
  • Sometimes you can get a discount on cash payments
  • You won’t be covered if the car is damaged.
  • Cash can make you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, especially if the car isn’t cheap.

If you use a debit card

If your card provider offers a chargeback scheme, you might be protected from potential problems.

You can use a credit card

Take this into consideration:

  • You can be flexible and make larger payments when you have the funds
  • You’ll be covered for goods between PS100-PS30,000 even if only a portion of your credit card cost was (this is called section 75 protection).
  • Credit cards often have higher interest rates than finance arrangements.

You can pay electronically by using an electronic transfer

Take this into consideration:

  • Your bank may have a maximum amount that you can transfer to another account.
  • You can pay with a CHAPS payment, but there will be an additional charge. Check with your bank.
  • Private sellers may not be comfortable sharing their bank details if you are buying from them.

You can pay with finance that is arranged by a trader

Take this into consideration:

  • You’ll need to pay more interest so it will be more costly
  • This can help you to get a car even if you don’t have the cash upfront
  • You might be able to take action against both the trader and the finance company in the event of a later problem.

You have to arrange finance if you want to pay with financing

Take this into consideration:

  • You’ll need to pay more interest so it will be more costly
  • This can help you to get a car even if you don’t have the cash upfront
  • Once you have received the money from the finance firm, you can use your debit or credit card to pay for additional protection
  • If there is a problem with your car, the finance company will not be responsible for solving it.

Hire purchase is a way to buy a car.

Take this into consideration:

  • You don’t get the car until you have made the final payment
  • A deposit is required, usually 10% of the car’s value.
  • There will be a monthly fixed cost. This makes it easier to budget.
  • If you are unable to pay the monthly payments, the car may be taken away

You can find more information on hiring a car via a hire purchase arrangement at the Money Advice Service.