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Useful Information

About buying a vehicle

The Seller

Always find out exactly who you are buying the vehicle from.

Never agree to meet on neutral ground, however convenient that may be for you. Ensure that you enter the premises. Don't do a deal on the pavement outside the given address.


Visit them to ensure they have commercial premises and are not selling from a public car park. A dealer usually has several vehicles on the premises for sale. They should supply you with a printed invoice giving all the company details, VAT registration number and full details of the vehicle. Never let them bring the vehicle to you, however far away they are and however willing they are to do so.

Private Sales

Visit the address recorded on the V5C document and ask to see proof of identity, such as a passport or recent utility bill, to ensure the seller is the keeper.

How to Avoid Fraud

Follow these simple rules and you will minimise the risk factor involved when buying a used vehicle. There are cases of fraud in the market but if you take care you can reduce your risk. The basic rules to follow are:

  • Visit the seller - don't let them bring the vehicle to you and don't meet them halfway
  • Check their identity
  • AutoCheck the vehicle
  • Don't buy a 'bargain' - it may not be all it seems
  • Get an independent mechanical inspection


The vehicle must have a full DVLA (Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency) Vehicle Registration Document (V5C).

The DVLA have advised that a number of V5C Vehicle registration documents have been stolen, and may be used fraudulently. The serial numbers of these documents can be found on the DVLA website. If you wish to check whether a certificate is genuine, prior to the purchase of a vehicle, you should ring the DVLA helpline on 0300 7906104.

The vehicle must have a valid MOT certificate where applicable. Check the status of a new style MOT Test Certificate on https://www.gov.uk/check-mot-status

Compare the AutoCheck data carefully against the vehicle and the V5C.

Check that the VIN, or chassis number, on the VIN plate (found in the engine compartment) and the VIN (stamped onto the vehicle body shell) match the number recorded on the V5C. Ensure that you confirm the VIN on the AutoCheck site before you purchase the vehicle.

Check the service history carefully, and obtain confirmation that any warranty is still effective.

The Vehicle

You must question the reason for a vehicle being sold below the current market value. A 'quick sale' may not be all it seems.

AutoCheck cannot tell you:

  • If the vehicle has been damaged, unless written off by an insurance company.
  • If it is a 'clone' bearing false Vehicle Registration Mark (VRM) and Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). If it is a clone the data supplied will be for a different, but identical, vehicle.
  • If it was originally purchased in another EU country, not the UK.
  • If it is roadworthy.

Paying for the vehicle

A cash sale is not traceable; always try to pay by electronic bank transfer, cheque or bankers draft. The Data Guarantee does not provide protection for cash payments which exceed £1000 or 10% of the purchase price of the vehicle (whichever is the lower).


If you believe the vehicle is covered by a manufacturer's warranty it is advisable to contact a franchised dealer or the manufacturer to check the validity of the warranty. A vehicle purchased outside the UK may have a shorter warranty period than an identical vehicle purchased from a UK dealer. Manufacturers' warranties are also conditional on regular servicing and other circumstances.

About your AutoCheck Report

Self or Third Party Insured Vehicles

Although AutoCheck is as comprehensive as is currently possible, it may not reveal that the vehicle has been declared a write-off IF the owner was self-insured or third-party insured or if the vehicle was not covered by its insurance policy at the time of the incident (and the AutoCheck Data Guarantee will not cover this risk).

Non-UK Registered Vehicles and Events Occurring Outside the UK

Our data only relates to vehicles registered in the United Kingdom. AutoCheck cannot reveal (and the AutoCheck Data Guarantee will not cover) events occurring at any time whilst the vehicle was not registered in the UK (the date of first registration is shown on the V5C document) and may not reveal events occurring outside the UK at any time.

Vehicle Specification

The specification details are those recorded by the DVLA and shown on the V5C registration document. If the V5C and our data do not match contact our Service Support team who will be able to assist you. Any discrepancies or omissions may indicate that an amendment has been made at the DVLA since first registration. A missing make and/or model may indicate that the vehicle was not originally purchased from a UK franchised dealer. You can check this with your local franchised dealer or the Manufacturer's Customer Service Department. If the vehicle does not match the V5C contact the DVLA. Only the registered keeper can change any details with the DVLA.

Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)

A VIN or chassis number as it is sometimes known, is a unique identification number for every vehicle manufactured, consisting of a combination of 17 letters and numbers. A registration number can be changed and may appear on different vehicles over a period of time, but the VIN is a constant throughout the lifetime of the vehicle.

How to find the VIN

The VIN will be documented on the V5C registration certificate issued by the DVLA, and usually in the service book. You can find it in several places on the vehicle:

  • It is engraved on a metal plate usually found in the engine compartment. Be suspicious if it shows signs of having been tampered with, such as rivets having been disturbed or if it has been removed.
  • The VIN is also stamped in several places on the chassis of the vehicle, often under the bonnet or in the floor panel on the driver's side. Check the surrounding area for signs of any alteration, the 17 digits should be evenly stamped. If you cannot find the stamped VIN, contact a franchised dealer for advice.

The VIN on the registration certificate, and held in our data, does not contain the alphabetic letters I or O, these are always shown as numbers one and zero.

Stolen Vehicle Database

The Police National Computer (PNC) is updated by the police each time a vehicle is reported stolen. If you check a vehicle which appears on this database, we are obliged to inform the Police. Our Service Support Team will then contact you with any further information available.

Do not consider proceeding with the purchase until you have received written confirmation from our Service Support Team that it has been recovered. If you buy a stolen vehicle it remains the property of the true owner or their insurance company who can repossess it.

Cloned or Ringed Vehicles

A "clone" or "ringer" is a vehicle which has been stolen and has been given a false registration number and VIN. If this has happened, the data supplied will be for a different, but identical, vehicle. A clone or ringer is not covered by AutoCheck Data Guarantee.

High Risk

If the vehicle is recorded as being at 'High Risk' it usually means that a third party has an interest in the vehicle and is trying to track its movement within the market to prevent it being sold on without good title. It often relates to a finance agreement or a dispute over ownership. It is not connected with the physical condition of the vehicle.

However, you should not proceed with the purchase of the vehicle until our Service Support Team has fully investigated it on your behalf. They will contact you once they have a response from the company who recorded the interest.

Please note that if a vehicle appears on this database, we are obliged to inform the company that registered the 'High Risk' of the details of the check.

Outstanding Finance

If a loan or hire purchase agreement is still outstanding and you buy the vehicle, the finance company will retain a legal interest in it until the loan is repaid in full and they may repossess it. You may believe that as an innocent purchaser you would retain good title on a vehicle in this situation. However, you would have to prove your status as an innocent purchaser to the finance company which, in practice, is an extremely difficult and lengthy process.

What to do if Finance is recorded

The details of the agreement and the finance company are shown in the AutoCheck report. You should contact the finance company and ask if the agreement has been fully repaid. If it has, ask for written confirmation and only consider buying the vehicle once you have it.

If it is outstanding, ask the seller to obtain a settlement figure from the finance company (they will not supply this to you as you are not the account holder).

You can confirm this figure with the finance company. You can then pay the outstanding sum directly to the finance company, and pay any balance to the seller. If the settlement figure is greater than the asking price, both you and the seller should pay the finance company together.

The finance company should automatically contact Experian to remove the data from the vehicle.

Written Off Information

Condition Data Check

We check if the vehicle has been recorded as written-off or a total loss by an insurance company due to a damage or theft-related insurance claim. A damage-related insurance claim means the insurer has decided that the vehicle is uneconomical to repair. You should only proceed with the purchase once you are satisfied that the repairs have been carried out to a high standard and that the vehicle is roadworthy. A theft-related insurance claim indicates that the vehicle has been stolen and an insurance company has paid out a claim on it and has become the legal owner. It may have been recovered intact and returned to the road, or in a damaged condition.

If you require further information about a Theft status contact our Service Support Team who will verify the current status of the vehicle for you.

Categories of Write-Off

Category Description
A This vehicle has been declared unsuitable or beyond repair and has been identified to be crushed in its entirety.
B This vehicle has been declared unsuitable or beyond repair. Usable parts can be recycled.
C An extensively damaged vehicle which the insurer has decided not to repair, but which could be repaired and returned to the road.
D A damaged vehicle which the insurer has decided not to repair, but which could be repaired and returned to the road.
F A vehicle damaged by fire, which the insurer has decided not to repair.
S This vehicle has been deemed a repairable vehicle which has sustained damage to any part of the structural frame or chassis and the insurer / self-insured owner has decided not to repair the vehicle.
N This vehicle has been deemed a repairable vehicle which has not sustained damage to the structural frame or chassis and the insurer / self-insured owner has decided not to repair the vehicle.


These vehicles have not been recovered and ownership rests with the insurer who made the total loss payment. They are able to repossess the vehicle as soon as it is identified, even if it has been bought innocently.

Vehicle Identity Check

The Vehicle Identity Check (VIC) scheme was introduced as a deterrent to ringing but came to an end in October 2015. This notification will set a 'VIC marker' against the DVLA vehicle record. Whilst a VIC marker remains set, DVLA will not issue a registration certificate V5C, or vehicle licence reminder V11. The VIC marker will only be removed, when the car passed a VIC. The VIC, was previously carried out by the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA).

For further information about VIC contact:

Vehicle Inspectorate Enquiries: 03300 123 900
Vehicle Inspectorate Website: https://www.gov.uk/contact-dvsa
DVLA Customer Enquiries: 0844 306 9203
DVLA Website: www.dvla.gov.uk

Plate Changes

Vehicles primarily go through plate changes so the owner can personalise the vehicle, so it’s usually nothing to worry about. It will always go back to an age related plated once the 'private' plate has been moved to another vehicle.

Where the vehicle has undergone one or more registration plate changes, you will be advised of each previous registration plate and the date it was applied to the vehicle.

Colour Changes

As with plate changes, most colour changes of a vehicle will be for the purposes of personalisation. Vehicle owners are required to notify the DVLA of any colour changes which will then be noted on the vehicles V5C, the Vehicle Registration Certificate. If the vehicle has had a colour change recorded, you will be advised of the original colour, the number of previous changes recorded and the current colour.

Previous Keepers

We can tell you how many previous keepers the vehicle has had and the dates of change of ownership.

For example 0 previous keepers means that it is still registered to its original keeper and you will be number two, four previous keepers means that the present keeper is the fifth and you will be number six.

Look out for several changes in quick succession, it could mean that the vehicle is problematical, or it could be due to the type of vehicle.

The name of the keeper is covered by Data Protection and is not released to AutoCheck by the DVLA. However the names and addresses of the last two keepers are shown on the V5C, the Vehicle Registration Certificate. You can contact those keepers to ask about the vehicle.

Please note that the keeper is not necessarily the owner, it may be a company vehicle or belong to a third party.

Mileage Information

The mileage record is gathered from various sources. It is presented in date order and shows mileage, date and source. You should check the mileage readings and dates with MOT certificates and service records to satisfy yourself that the sequence of mileages is acceptable. Our records flag up any mileage discrepancies. A discrepancy indicates that the vehicle may have been 'clocked', and that at some point the odometer has been tampered with to display a lower figure than the actual mileage. If necessary contact the previous keepers of the vehicle (shown on the V5C).

The sources of mileage check information include:

DVLA - The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority

BVRLA - The British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association

RMI - The Retail Motor Industry Federation

This information is not validated and therefore some data may not be complete or accurate. Please note that a small proportion of imported vehicles may have readings in kilometers rather than miles.


Scrapped information is received from the DVLA.

Do not proceed with the purchase if the vehicle is recorded as scrapped.

Please contact our Service Support Team for more information.


Import information is received from the DVLA.

If a vehicle is recorded as being imported, we cannot provide information for the period that it was out of the country. Therefore you should try to obtain as much information about the vehicle's history as possible. You should also check the vehicle documents carefully.

Please note that a vehicle purchased in another country in the European Union and brought into the UK, whether as a new or used vehicle, is not classified as an Imported Vehicle, to reflect the single European Market. Always check with a franchised dealer if you are unsure of the origin of the vehicle or if you believe it is covered by the manufacturer's warranty.


Export information is received from the DVLA.

If a vehicle is recorded as being exported we cannot provide information on the period that it was out of the country. Therefore you should try to obtain as much information about the vehicle's history as possible. You should also check the vehicle documents carefully. Only proceed if there is a current V5C, dated after the date of export shown in the AutoCheck report.

Used Before First Registration

A vehicle is not always registered with the DVLA when it is new. It may have been used in another European country, or on a private estate in the UK.