Buying a car can be a very fun and exciting experience, particularly when you find the right car for you, at the right price. Unfortunately, not everyone involved may be as honest and genuine as we’d all like. That's why we've compiled some simple steps to follow to help you steer your way through the market, trouble free.

1. Check the vehicle’s history: You can carry out a Hire Purchase Inspection (HPI) check to review a range of details about the vehicle you’re about to buy, including if it has been stolen, has outstanding finance tied to it or if it has ever been written off. Category A & B write-offs should not be returned to the road. Although the majority of sales are legitimate, there are some dishonest sellers out there who will try to sell a car without revealing vital details about it – so it pays to do your research on any car that you may be interested in buying.

2. Check the mileage: A common scam is to reduce the mileage on a vehicle’s clock. A HPI check, review of the V5, service and MOT history will reveal any discrepancies. You can also contact the DVLA to review information they hold if you have any doubts. Check the vehicle carefully for any inconsistencies in the amount of wear and tear and the mileage stated.

3. Know who you are buying from: Only deal with the registered keeper of the vehicle, be this an individual or a vehicle dealer. While most sellers are looking to make an honest transaction, it doesn't hurt to check the V5 document and the keeper’s address and ensure the details you have match-up. This will help you to avoid being scammed by a dealer posing as a private seller, and therefore missing out on a warranty you’re entitled to.

4. Know the market: Do your research on price before you buy. Check the estimated value of the vehicle and the asking price of similar vehicles on the market. You can do this by reviewing adverts on or using the Parker’s Car Guide. Remember – if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

5. Vehicle first, money second: Don’t hand over payment for a vehicle until you have viewed it first. There are scams where you’ll be sold a virtual vehicle and asked to pay upfront online. Be particularly careful if you are asked to send payment online. Make sure you have inspected the vehicle and checked all of the above, and that you are fully satisfied with the terms of the sale before committing to a purchase or exchanging any money. 

For more handy tips on buying securely visit our security page for great advice, videos and more.

Sarah Lewis


January 16, 2015

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