Guide to Buying a Used Car

Whenever you buy a used car, regardless of whether it is from a dealership or private seller, then there are a couple of things that you need to consider so that you don't end up buying a car that you might not get to own. Firstly any used car runs the risk of being stolen and should you buy it then you still won't be the proper owner. This means that if it is later discovered that the car is stolen then you will lose it and the money you have spent on it. Secondly, when buying a used car you need to ensure that the car does not have any outstanding finance relating to it.

This simply means that the previous, or original owner, paid it off properly and fully when it was first purchased. Failure to do so may mean that the finance company may have a legal claim to the car again leaving you without a car and without the money you spent on it. When buying a used car there are a few simple precautions that you can take to ensure that you get a legitimate car that is safe for you and your family. When you buy a car from a dealership, choose one that has a good reputation.

Ask around to see what other people think of them. If buying off a private seller then use your judgement about the seller to decide whether they are trustworthy or not. If something does not seem right or the deal seems too good to be true then it probably isn't - don't buy the car and consider contacting the police.

When buying a used car always ask for proof of identity and the address of the seller, such as a driving licence. This means that if you have any problems with the car or you are asked about the seller you will be able to have their full and proper details. Also, only buy a used car that comes with its vehicle registration document (V5), and make sure that it is an authentic document with the DVLA watermark and that it has not been tampered with. On the V5 will be the vehicle identification number (VIN) which is a unique 17-character number issued to every vehicle by the car maker, and was previously known as the chassis number. You should check the VIN on the V5 matches matches the VIN which can be found in various places on or in the car. The VIN can be found on a manufacturer's VIN plate under the bonnet or fixed to the post between the front and rear doors; stamped on the body chassis or frame; or on an additional plate fixed securely to the top corner of the dashboard where it can easily be seen through the windscreen, known as a visible VIN.

If you can't find the VIN or suspect it has been tampered with then don't buy the car and inform the police. Finally to avoid buying a stolen or written off car, or one with outstanding finance, you can take advantage of a service offered by the RAC and AA that checks the legal status of the car. This will cost around thirty pounds but this may turn out to be a small amount compared to what you might lose if you buy a car that may later taken away from you.

Car Secured discusses vehicle security options for owners of cars, motorcycles, caravans and any other form of private transport. Find out more about securing your vehicle and ensuring you stay on the right side of the law at

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