#private car sales
Buying Advice – Cars:
Advice on Buying a Car Privately
Check out the seller
If buying privately, it’s wise to do your research on the seller as well as the vehicle.
- Get a landline telephone number but you should be aware that it could be for a public telephone box or might transfer to another phone. Call the number to check.
- Always meet a private seller at their home address. Check that the car is registered on the V5C Registration Certificate (the log book ) to that address and look for signs that they reside there.
- If you feel unhappy with the other party, trust your instincts and walk away. Do not be tempted by that elusive bargain.
Check the paperwork
Examine all the legal documents, plus any available details of the car’s service history. The V5C Registration Certificate is the official document that records the name and address of the current and previous keepers, registration, chassis and engine number, make, year, model and colour.
- Make sure that V5C has not been tampered with and that the document is watermarked. Compare the document with another V5C or look at the V5C for your own vehicle. See the DVLA website for more information (www.dvla.gov.uk ).
- Check that the vehicle identification number (VIN) matches that on the documents, and has not been tampered with. The VIN number is in at least three places on a vehicle. The ‘visible’ VIN plate is under the windscreen, on the nearside (left) of the car, under where the tax disc should be. The ‘VIN plate/sticker’ will normally be somewhere under the bonnet. There will be a number stamped in the main body that is located differently for each type of vehicle. Be very wary if there are any signs that etching or numbers have been tampered with or removed.
- Look for a full service history, complete with dated rubber stamps, in the service book (but see the warning, below)
- If the services were carried out at a franchise dealership, all the better
- If the engine is reconditioned, ask for evidence, such as a bill or, preferably, a warranty
The MOT certificate, which must accompany all cars over three years old, is the evidence of the car’s basic condition on the day of the test. Also check old MOT certificates (if the car is more than four years old) to see if there is a consistent story on the mileage. The general rule of thumb is: the more paperwork the better. A stamped service book is good, but actual receipts for servicing are better. It is not unknown for service books to be faked, so check that the stamps don’t all look like they were created on the same day. It is far harder to forge receipts for everything from brake pads to a new alternator.
New rules on car tax
From 1st October 2014 there are new rules for Vehicle Excise Duty, or car tax.
The tax disc, first introduced in 1921, will no longer exist in paper form and will be replaced by a new electronic system.
The biggest impact of these changes is likely to be seen by used car buyers. When you buy a second hand car, you will no longer benefit from any remaining months on the tax disk, as the vehicle tax will no longer be transferred with the car. This means buyers will have to get a tax disc for their new car straight away, or risk being caught driving in an untaxed car.
Motorists will now have to register their car online to pay Vehicle Excise Duty. This can be done via Direct Debit on the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) website, on the phone, or at a Post Office branch.
Those car owners who fail to register for the tax could be caught out by number plate recognition cameras which track each vehicle on the road.
It is the responsibility of the seller of the vehicle to inform the DVLA of a change of ownership, otherwise they could face a possible £1,000 fine. This is done by filling out a V5C form and sending it to the DVLA.
Vehicle sellers will get an automatic refund for any full calendar months left on the tax disk.
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