If you like what you've seen so far, now's the time to check the car's paperwork - to note a few details and make a couple of phone calls.
Half a million cars are stolen in the UK each year. If you're conned into buying one, or one with finance still owing on it, you could end up not only losing the car but the money you paid for it. Insurance write-offs may have been in a serious accident so could, if they've not been properly repaired, be dangerous to drive.
Ask to see the car's registration document (the V5C form, sometimes called the car's 'logbook'), service records, MoT certificate and handbook.
buy a car without a V5C registration document.
check the V5C is genuine by looking for the watermark and check the
ask for proof of the seller's name & address and check it matches what's
check the registration number, car description and chassis number on the form
all match the car you're looking at. Look for the car's data plate (often
will help you avoid buying a 'clone' - a stolen car that's been given the
identity of a similar, legitimate one that's already on the road. The number
check the MoT certificate - check the details against the car (Make, Model,
Colour, Mileage, VIN) and check the MoT expires when the seller says. Unlike the
old watermarked documents, these days MoT certificates are little
remember, an MoT is no guarantee that the car's roadworthy. It's just a snapshot
of the car's condition at the moment it was tested. You should have
Service records: Hopefully the car will have a good file of service receipts or, ideally, an up-to-date service record book full of main dealer stamps at the right intervals. A lack of receipts indicates a car that hasn't been cared for and which might prove unreliable. Check the records for who has been doing the servicing, what work has been done and whether anything has had persistent attention but may still be unresolved. If there are old MoT 'advisory' report sheets, see if any warnings of looming faults were noted and check that they've been fixed - or you could be hit for the bill next time around.
the mileage. Old MoT certificates used to be best for checking how a car's
mileage has changed. If the owner has kept them, that's a good sign. Look through
them if available, but bear in mind recent versions of the MoT certificate can
now be easily forged. You're looking to see if the mileage has progressed in
enquiries: If at a dealer, or if the car has recently changed hands, note
check can be done over the phone or online. You'll need a credit card, the
Find out what's covered and what's not. Does it cover parts and
Finally, does the owner have the car's handbook? You'll need one as
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