Our top tips for buying a carWednesday 20 February 2013, by The Media Team
Unless you’re a trained mechanic, buying a car can be a bit daunting at the best of times. So we’d like to offer a helping hand.
Here are our top tips for checking a vehicle before buying:
- Meet your buyer in a safe, public place. If you feel uncomfortable meeting a stranger, then take a friend
- Ask a few questions about the car. When and where did they buy it? What kind of driving have they done in it? Why are they selling? The more you ask, the more you’ll know.
- Ask to see the vehicle’s documents. A good seller should have logbooks, previous service history and MOT certificates all ready for you to look at. Check that this information matches the description the seller has given you, too.
- Perform some routine maintenance checks on the vehicle. Get in the driver’s seat, and see if all the car features work, such as electric windows, air conditioning and windscreen wipers. Walk around the car, and look for mismatched paint and rust that could be a sign of damaged bodywork. Check the tyres for grip, and lift up the bonnet to inspect the oil level in the engine.
- Ensure that the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) matches across the vehicle. There are several places a VIN number would usually appear – in the logbook, on the front or rear windscreen, on a metal plate on the engine, and stamped on the chassis by the driver seat. If the number appears to be tampered with, ask why.
- You can get always get a vehicle background check by entering the registration of the car on the DVLA website: https://www.gov.uk/get-vehicle-information-from-dvla. This guarantees that the car hasn’t been stolen or written off. You can do this before the meeting, or even after your inspection.
- Ask to take the car for a test drive with the seller. If anything feels strange, be sure to ask questions.
- And if you’re happy to buy, we’d always recommend that you don’t carry a large sum of money on your person. Once you agree a price, why not arrange a visit to the bank or agree to meet somewhere safe with the money?
- If a seller suggests using an online payment service, and sends you to a link by email, you should be suspicious. While some companies may offer payment or protection schemes, the email or instructions you have received may not be genuine.