So you’ve found a little money wedged down the seat of the sofa, you’ve decided to treat yourself to your favourite vehicle, and now you’re looking for your dream Porsche …but what happens if you get that purchase wrong?
We often hear stories about how a buyer of a luxury sports car was fooled in to purchasing a car that’s been made from a number of different cars, or how a finance representative comes knocking at the door to repossess a vehicle when it was purchased in good faith, and quite simply, once you’ve paid your money, there’s little you can do about it.
Preparation is Key
The key to successfully buying a used car, even if it’s from a reputable dealer (because they’re not infallible) is homework and preparation.
Mechanical checks are easy … you can run through the old MOT certificates to see if there’s been an issue, perhaps put the car on a vehicle lift, or just kick the tyres and be done with it, but it’s the hidden history that may not present itself that could be more of a worry to you.
How would you know if there’s outstanding finance on the vehicle? Or perhaps the vehicle has been written-off by an insurance company? It may even be stolen, and if you don’t check, you could be purchasing an expensive mistake.
Vehicle History Check
A recent survey by a leading UK motoring organisation found that over half of the cars checked through an online vehicle history checking service were found to have an issue. Admittedly, it could be something as simple as a number plate change thanks to owning a cherished registration, but it could also be something a little more sinister.
32,000 vehicles had been checked, around 60 of those were listed as stolen, actually stolen and unrecovered, nearly one-fifth had outstanding finance registered against the vehicle, and a small percentage had been officially scrapped.
It’s all very well being a mechanical whizz, but unless you back that up with an online checking service, you may still be buying a ‘pup’, just a mechanically sound pup.
Why’s It Important?
The legalities can get a little complex, in some cases (like buying a written-off vehicle) it could be entirely legal to do so, but if the seller hasn’t declared it then your paying over the odds, plus there’s no guarantee of a mechanically-sound repair. You should also remember that some write-offs can’t legally be used on the road again.
As for finance … if the finance is registered on the vehicle itself, technically the ‘owner’ doesn’t own it, nor has the permission to sell it – that would be down to the finance company. Yes you can still purchase the vehicle with an agreement that £XX is the settlement figure that goes straight to the finance house, but if the seller didn’t take care of that, then the finance company could legally remove the vehicle, leaving you to fight a court case against the seller.
And what of those pesky mileage discrepancies? Again, without full disclosure, there’s chance that you’re buying the vehicle for the price of a lower mileage version, so you’ll be paying well over the book price for a higher mileage car, believing that you’re getting a deal.
Vehicle History Check #2
So just what sort of things can an online checking service look for?
It could tell you whether the mileage figure tallies up with what’s on record, maybe there’s outstanding finance on the vehicle, had a colour change, registration change, or whether it’s been written off, stolen … pretty much everything you need to know about the vehicle, and its history.
Some services offer a money back guarantee, although quite often you need to jump through a few hoops to make that happen, but you shouldn’t be relying on them to make the purchasing decision for you … use the service more as a backup, a checking service (which is exactly what it is), a little peace of mind.
In all honesty, buying a used car can be fraught with pitfalls, even when you’re buying from a known-dealer, perhaps even a friend … a problem with a vehicle’s history may not come to light until it’s been passed on three, maybe four times to new owners, so just because you know the seller, you may not know the car.
Why risk your money?
There are many different services that can do at least a basic check, some free, some paid, and some are a mixture of both – giving you basic information for free, but then asking for a fee, which is totally fair … you wouldn’t expect your plumber (or any other service industry) to come and rework your pipes for free would you?
It’s the same with a car check … you’re not just paying for the service though, you’re buying peace of mind, and that has to be worth a few quid doesn’t it?
If you’re looking to purchase another car shortly, then you may want to check out one of these sites, for what it’s worth, CarVeto UK offer one such service, and it works well.