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Consumer advice and protection

Checklist to help guide you through buying a second hand car

Used cars poster
  1. Look at car adverts in your local paper and online to research the make and model which will best suit your needs.
  2. Look online to check car value guide prices and work out if you can afford the insurance and tax.
  3. Before seeing the vehicle ask the seller for the registration number, make and model and MOT test number. Use the DVLA's online vehicle enquiry service to check that the details you are given match their records. Also use the MOT checking service to ensure the MOT is up to date and the MOT history matches up.
  4. View the car in daylight [so you can clearly see dents and scratches]
  5. Inspect the vehicle, looking for rust and corrosion or faulty and unsafe tyres. Ideally carry this out with a family member or friend who has more experience with buying a car.
  6. Consider who you re purchasing the vehicle from. Buying from a dealer may be more expensive, but you will have more rights that if you purchase from a private individual or at auction
  7. Take the vehicle for a test drive.
  8. Ask to look at the vehicle alone without the pressure of a trader or seller distracting you from being able to fully examine the vehicle.
  9. Check the details on all relevant paperwork to ensure they relate to the vehicle you are viewing. Does the V5c form have the same number as the chassis number of VIN [vehicle identification number]?
  10. Check the service history. Is the service record up to date.
  11. Check the mileage. Is it high or low? [An average of 10,000 to 12,000 miles a year] Is the mileage on the car the same as on the MOT and service records? Does the condition of the car reflect the mileage? Check any faults found at MOT or advisory notes made?
  12. Check on Hpi or Experian sites [this is chargeable] to ensure that the vehicle has not been stolen, involved in a serious accident or written off or has outstanding finance?
  13. Make sure any warranty or payment protection meets your needs and you understand any exclusions.
  14. Make sure you fully understand the conditions of the sale. Have you read the contract carefully before signing?
  15. Ask for a receipt with the seller's name and address on it. 

Trading standards - consumers

(via Citizen's Advice consumer helpline)


Tel: 03454 040506


Telephone lines open Monday to Friday
9am to 5pm (except bank holidays)
Calls to the helpline cost up to 9p per minute
from a landline. If you're calling from a mobile,
it'll cost between 3p and 40p per minute - if you
have inclusive minutes
it's the same as calling a

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