Hints, Tips and Advice if you're buying a second hand car.
Looking for a second hand car is becoming more
of a risk with the increase of vehicle fraud and car identity crime.
The information below tells you what to look for and where to look for
it. The golden rule is "if you are at all unsure, WALK AWAY!"
Car Adverts and Inspecting the Vehicle
- If the only contact number you have for the seller,
beware, mobile phone numbers are almost untraceable.
- If the advert gives a specific time to call this
could be phone box. Arrange a viewing of the vehicle during daylight
hours, preferably at the seller's home.
- Do not agree to the seller coming to your home,
even if this is more convenient for you.
- Never go to view the vehicle in a public place
like a motorway service station.
- Ensure that the seller is familiar with the vehicle
and its controls
- Never buy a vehicle without a registration document
or certificate (referred to as 'registration certificate') even if
the seller says it has been sent to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing
Agency (DVLA) for changes.
- If there is a registration certificate, make sure
it is genuine by holding it up to the light. You should be able to
see the DVLA watermark within the layers of paper.
- Be aware that the registration certificate is not
a document of title, this means that the person recorded on it is
not necessarily the legal owner of the vehicle.
Check the Vehicles Identity
- Once you know what make and model of vehicle you
are interested in, find out where the vehicle's identification number
(VIN) should be. The VIN is a unique number which is used to identify
individual vehicles on a huge database held by the DVLA and Vehicle
- Once you have found the 17 digit VIN, make sure
that it matches exactly the VIN printed on the registration certificate.
Be suspicious if the VIN shows signs of having been tampered with.
- The VIN should always be somewhere on the vihicle.
If it has been removed, ask why.
- The VIN should be stamped in a neat and even way
on the vehicle. Very often under the bonnet or in the floor panel
on the driver's side. Check the surrounding area for signs of alteration,
cuts, grind marks, welds etc.
- A vehicle with a 'Q' registration number shows
that the age or identity of the vehicle is not known. It is possible
that the vehicle may be built from spare parts, some or all of which
may not be new. This also applies to imported vehicles without supporting
documentation to identify the vehicles age.
- On some vehicles, part of the the VIN is etched
on the windows, check to make sure that it matches the registration
What to look out for
- Check carefully under any stickers, they can hide
- Check that the engine number matches the registration
- Does the engine number look like it has been interfered
with, obscured or changed?
- Are all the locks the same? (Thieves sometimes
change locks they have damaged when breaking in to the vehicle.)
- Are there any signs of damage from forced entry?
- Has the locking petrol cap been forced and replaced?
Let a professional look at it for you
- You can pay to have an independent qualified examiner
with you to see the vehicle. This service is available from most breakdown
services such as the AA or RAC.
- Never pay cash unless you are absolutely sure.
- Remember, if in doubt, walk away.