Purchasing a car is always an exciting experience, to most there are few things that are more exciting than jumping in a car, taking it for a test drive and realising that it’s the car for you!
However, before you let your heart rule your head you should always thoroughly check the vehicle’s past, as there could be something horrible lurking in its history that will turn your dream car into a nightmare!
Here are a few things to watch out for when doing a vehicle check:
1. Has the car you’re looking to purchase been written off?
Just because a car is an insurance write off, doesn’t mean it can’t be repaired and end up back on the road.
A write off is a car that has been damaged to the extent that the insurance company deems it too expensive to repair. Each write off is put into categories, A, B, C or D. Cat A and B are beyond repairable and are illegal to repair and return to the road, at best Cat B cars can be used for spare parts. Cat C and D cars can however be repaired and legally return to the roads.
There’s nothing wrong with purchasing a previously written off car, if it’s repaired well and you know that it has been previously written off it can often be a good value purchase. However, if it has been poorly repaired or you weren’t aware that the car you were looking to purchase was previously written off it could be a rather nasty and dangerous surprise.
If a car has been written off, a Vehicle Identity Check (VIC) marker will be put against the DVLA record, which can always be checked. The likelihood is that the car you’re looking to purchase hasn’t been written off in the past, but it’s always best to check and you can do this with a HPI check. Any reputable car dealership will have already carried out a HPI check, always ask to see it, alternatively you can pay for one yourself for just £20.
2. Has the car got outstanding finance?
A common misconception is that car finance stays with the person that took out the lease policy, this is incorrect, it stays with the car. If you purchase a car that has outstanding car finance and it remains unpaid you could have the car finance company or even the bailiffs knocking at your door, if you can’t pay they will take the car away.
Again, this can all be checked with a HPI check, just ask the dealership to show you the report.
3. Has the car got a full MOT and service history?
Sounds really simple, but you’d be surprised about the amount of people that don’t check whether the car they are looking to purchase has a full MOT and service history. I would definitely walk away from purchasing a car without a full MOT and service history. This can be easily checked for free via https://www.gov.uk/check-mot-history and the vehicle’s V5 document (log book).
4. Has the car been stolen?
Believe it or not, there are a lot of rather unscrupulousness people that steal cars, change the number plates and sell the cars on. According to HPI, over 6.2 million cars on the road have had their number plates changed illegally. The best way to check is to find the chassis number and cross reference this with the V5 document (log book). If the vehicle doesn’t have a chassis number, or its been ground away, instantly walk away.
The best thing you can do is follow your gut feeling, if something feels amiss ask the questions you need to ask and check the vehicles history thoroughly. If anything comes back that you’re not sure about, step away, there are plenty more cars out there, spend the time, do your research and get the car you deserve!