Documents to check when buying a used car
Checking the paperwork is a crucial part of establishing the car is what it appears to be - and isn't stolen or a ringer.
Always insist on seeing originals, not photocopies. And cross check the paperwork - to make sure that mileage information, for instance, is consistent.
The registration document (now called the V5C,) is a record of the last two registered keepers of the car and you must check it before you buy a car:
- Make sure that the person selling the car is shown as the keeper - ask for another form of ID to be sure. You should be viewing the car at the address shown on the registration document as well.
- Check the car's vehicle identification number (VIN) - it should match that on the registration.
- Check the details on the registration document match the car - there may sometimes be slight discrepancies in colour (this could be a genuine difference of opinion on when dark gray becomes black, or a sign of cloning). But everything else should match exactly.
- Make sure the form is genuine - it should have a watermark and not show signs of alteration. If you already have a car, take your registration along to compare, and make sure the fonts and positioning of information match. Check the registration document serial number against the list of stolen ones. If the serial number has been obliterated, walk away.
You'll need the registration to get a new tax disc. And while you can get a replacement if it's lost, don't accept this as an excuse when buying a car. You must see it before you buy.
Ideally, you want to see a full service history, with receipts for any work (you can contact the garage to confirm any work without a receipt was actually done). The location of the garages should match what else you know about the car's history.
Any person buying a used car should also seek their own independent advice
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Help and advice
Some relevant frequently asked questions
When does the 60 days start? When I register, purchase or when I check the first vehicle?
The 60 days start from the date of purchase of the AutoCheck.
Can you buy a check over the phone?
This service is an online service only, so we are unable to carry out a check over the phone.
When do I get my check?
You report appears as soon as you have successfully made your purchase. The results are instant.
How much does the data check insurance cost?
There is no extra charge for the data insurance, it is included in the cost of your check.