Buy a used car with confidence – Know what to look for.

Hints, Tips and Advice if you want to buy a used car.

If you are in the market to buy a used car, beware of the risks this entails. With the increase of vehicle fraud and car identity crime in the UK there is a high risk you could end up with a bad car. 1 in 3 cars for sale on the market shows up with some form of discrepant information in its history. We want you to be fore armed with information so that you might be able to smell a rat and avoid making a costly mistake.

Read on for some great advice on what to look for if you are going to buy a used car. The golden rule is “if you are unsure, WALK AWAY!”

Car Adverts and Inspecting the Vehicle

  • If the only contact number you have for the seller is a mobile phone, be wary. Mobile phone numbers are almost untraceable.
  • If the advert gives a specific time to call this could be phone box.
  • Only view the vehicle during the day.
  • Be suspicious if you don’t meet at the sellers home address.
  • Do not agree to the seller coming to your home.
  • Never go to view the vehicle in a public place like a motorway service station.


  • Never buy a used car without a registration document.
  • If there is a registration certificate, check for the DVLA watermark.
  • Ensure the person selling the car is the legal owner named on the registration document.

Check the Vehicles Identity

  • Check the vehicle’s identification number (VIN). The VIN is a unique number which is used to identify individual vehicles on a database held by the DVLA and Vehicle Manufacturers.
  • Make sure the VIN printed on the registration certificate matches the VIN on the car.
  • Be suspicious if the VIN shows signs of having been tampered with.
  • Don’t buy a used car if there is no VIN on it.
  • The VIN should be stamped in a neat and even way on the vehicle.
  • Check the surrounding area for signs of alteration, cuts, grind marks, welds etc.

What to look out for

  • Check carefully under any stickers, they can hide etching
  • Check the engine number matches the registration certificate.
  • 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 Engineer examine the vehicle with you. This service is available from most breakdown cover providers such as the AA or RAC.

Check it

  • Consider having an HPI check or vehicle history check carried out by one of many online private vehicle check companies. They have helped tens of thousands of motorists buy a used car with confidence for decades. For more on HPI Checks, CLICK HERE.


  • Never pay cash unless you are absolutely sure.
  • Remember, if in doubt, walk away.