How to Stay Safe When Buying a Used Car

Cars are one of the most expensive household items after new homes, kitchens, bathrooms, and gardens. Given this, it’s important that you make the correct decisions when buying a used car.

When you buy new, you are afforded plenty of protection: manufacturer’s guarantees and warrantees; free MOT and servicing for the first year or two; consumer rights protections; and much more.

The same is not true when you buy a used car UK. The water is muddier. For this reason, it’s vitally important that you understand how to stay safe when buying a new car. Here, we’re going to teach you how.

Tip 1: Although you don’t have the same rights you have when buying from a dealership or garage, you DO have rights. It’s important that you know these. 
When you buy a used car UK, you are afforded many consumer rights. First, when buying from a commercial business — i.e. a dealership or an independent garage — you are protected by certain rights. These include:

1. That the car be fit for use as sold. If they tell you that the car is safe and drives well, then it must be safe and drive well. In short, what they tell you about the purpose of the car must be accurate. E.g., they cannot sell you a car that is fit only for scrapping as if it were a car that you can drive safely.

2. The car must be “as described”. This ties in closely with 1, but it expands on it somewhat. It basically means that the description they give you for the car must be accurate. Because you cannot confirm what they say verbally (unless you record them, but this is only legal if you have their consent) you need this description in writing. If what they say diverges from the writing, always go by the writing, and not by what they say.

3. The car must be of sound quality. So, if they tell you it’s good to drive, then it also needs to be safe too. If it’s unsafe, they have to disclose this to you.

If you do buy a car that contravenes the above, you need to get in touch with the seller and give them the opportunity to reimburse or fix the car. Mistakes happen, so they might not have done this intentionally.

With private sellers, the car still needs to match the description. If it doesn’t, you can sue, but this will cost you money and there’s no guarantee of a win. For this reason, you have to be very careful when buying privately.

Tip 3: Always check the car properly
You need to take a good look over the car. Make sure that the supporting documents match the car — e.g. check number plates. Check for any unusual welding, which might indicate cut and shut. When viewing the car, it should be from the registered address and you will need to ask for the V5C to verify this. This helps to prove that the car isn’t stolen. Also, make sure the person selling the car is the person named on the V5C.

Never buy a car that does not have the V5C. Always verify the number plate against the document and the vehicle identity number (VIN), which you will usually find in one of the following places:

• Front of the engine block
• Rear wheel well
• Driver’s side doorjamb
• Driver’s side door post
• Front car frame
• Under the spare tyre

If you would like further help and advice about buying a used car, then please visit our website.

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