How to buy a used car

Have you ever heard the term “Buyer Beware” ?  it certainly applies when considering how to buy a used car.

These cars are also described by most websites as private sellers, most websites that advertise cars for sale have a How to buy a used car section.

If you are going to buy a second hand car privately always arrange to meet the owner at their home never at a place of work or a petrol station.

If there were a problem in the future you would have no way of retracing the seller, this article is not meant to stop you from buying privately.

In fact quite the opposite! There are many bargains to be had by buying a used car from another consumer, but you must read the article on how to buy a used car completly.

Please be careful and if you are still not sure contact us on Both the AA and RAC also have a professional service for their members.

Documents needed

Here are a list of documents you will need to see at the owners home address before you buy a second hand car:

Before you set off from home ask the owner for the registration number and chassis number of the car.

HPi Check

You will need these to complete a provenance check on the vehicle,The check will cover the following areas:

We recommend HPi ,Do this before you leave the house. If the car shows positive on any part of the check other than outstanding finance leave it well alone.

If it shows on outstanding finance you must make sure this is settled first before you purchase a second hand car. This can be done in one of two ways, either the owner settles the finance, and you get a letter from the finance company.

Stating they have No further interest in the vehicle or you request a settlement figure from the finance company.And you make one payment to the owner, and the balance to the finance company.

We prefer the latter, but always get the no further interest letter from the finance company direct. Not a copy, as it could be fake! OK so you have completed your check and you are on your way to see the car.

What to do when you arrive at the owner home

Once you arrive at the owner’s home ask to see the following documents

If you are happy with the general appearance of the car open the bonnet, there will be a silver plate. Check the chassis number against the chassis number on the V5 Log book and the HPi report.

If any of the letters and number don’t match leave the car well alone. There is also a chassis No. stamped into the car.

Different cars have it in different areas of the car, so do your research on the internet before you leave home.

Check the Registration number matches the V5 Log book, and if the chassis all matches up.

Modern cars should be serviced every 12,000-20,000 miles.

Depending on the manufacturers recommendations, do some reasearch on this on the web. The value of the used car will be affected if this has not been carried out by the manufacturer dealer.

particularly if the car is of a high value, so you need to keep this in mind when checking the service book. Make sure the mileage is consistent in between services.

As this forms part of your mileage check, Also ask to see previous MOT’s as this will give you the mileage. You can also get this information from DVLA

Mileage check from DVLA

DVLA also have hints and tips on  how to buy a used car. OK you have now checked the cars identity, checked its service history and the MOT’s !

If everything checks out OK and you are happy to go ahead with the purchase. It’s time to check the sellers identity against the log book V5 from his or her passport or drivers licence.

Two final words of warning make sure you feel comfortable with the person you are buying the car from.

If a deal feels to good to be true then it generally is.

Never be afraid to walk away after all its your hard earned cash you are handing over.



“No Hiccups” “I received the money on time and no hiccups. Roy, the buyer was very kind and agreed to see me without an appointment. I’d give the overall service 9/10.”

Anthony Jones