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Buying a Used Car

Doing some simple checks will reduce your chances of buying a car that has being sold illegally or has had major repairs. You can also find out if the current owner still owes money on the car.

It doesn’t take long or cost much. You should consider doing this no matter who you buy from.


Check the car’s details supplied by the seller match the details held by the DVLA using their free online checker -

Ask the seller for the car’s:

·         registration number (on the number plate)

·         MOT test number

·         mileage

·         make and model


Check the MOT and history

Vehicles need regular MOT tests to make sure they are safe for the road. You should check that MOT tests have been done regularly throughout the car’s history (most cars over 3 years old need an MOT test every year).  This can be done for free on


Get a private history check

It is a good idea to get a private history check (sometimes called a ‘data check’) on the car - this will give you valuable information about serious problems the car might have. It will cost up to £20.

It will tell you if:

·         the car has been reported stolen

·         the seller still owes money on the car

·         the car has previously been in a serious accident

·         the car is showing the correct mileage

·         the car has been written off, repaired and then returned to the road

You can get a car history check by searching online for websites that check vehicle details.


Inspect the car and take a test drive 

You should arrange to view the car in daylight, preferably when it’s dry - it’s harder to spot damage to the car if it’s wet.  The AA has a useful checklist for what to look out for when inspecting a used car and its paperwork. If you take a test drive you’ll need to make sure you’re insured to do this. If you have your own car insurance, check with your insurance company to see if you can drive someone else’s car. If you don’t have insurance, a trader or private seller’s insurance might cover you - you’ll need to ask them.


If you are still not sure – get an independent report

This will give you detailed information about the car’s condition and will cost around £100 to £200.

Independent reports are done by motoring organisations and specialist companies - call the Motor Ombudsman for advice on where to get an independent report in your area. The Motor Ombudsman is a government-backed self-regulatory body for the motoring industry. Telephone: 0345 241 3008

This information has been tailored from one of our trusted resources

PWCAC is OPEN for face-to-face advice (appointments and drop-ins) Monday to Friday, 9:30 – 1:30. If you need advice about welfare benefits, housing and homelessness, debt, relationship breakdown, consumer issues or anything else, get in touch with us: | 01892 838619    

94 Commercial Road, Paddock Wood, TN12 6DP 

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