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Buying used cars: the importance of a vehicle history check

Buying a used car has always involved certain potential risks.  Hidden or hard to determine mechanical problems have always been one of these possible problems, particularly when buying in a private sale, rather than from a reputable used car dealer.  Either gaining good knowledge of what to look out for in the particular model of car that you are buying, or taking advantage of the expertise of a friend or trusted mechanic can usually be enough to identify most physical problems.  However, there are other issues that can only be identified with a different kind of vetting procedure.  By using the online MOT checker provided by the government, and the vehicle history check service provided by autocheck.co.uk, it is now possible to uncover a hidden history – but just what do you need to look out for?

Car history check

Car history check

The MOT status and history checker that can be found here is fairly self explanatory, and can be used to check that an MOT certificate for a vehicle is genuine.  The date of the last test, the mileage on the vehicle at the time of the test, and the expiry date of the test are all provided, allowing you to confirm that the MOT certificate presented by the seller is above board.

You can also check the details of every MOT test carried out on the vehicle since 2005 (when the system was computerised).  Full test details can sometimes uncover mechanical issues as they developed over time, whlle checking the mileage at each MOT can help you make sure that the vehicle has not been clocked.

Check before

Check before

According to statistics gathered by autocheck.co.uk, 1 in 14 cars given their vehicle history check have significant mileage discrepancies, but this is by no means the most prevalent problem.  1 in 8 have been recorded as insurance write offs, while a staggering 1 in 4 subject to a vehicle history check have outstanding finance previously recorded.

Outstanding finance usually means that the ‘owner’ does not yet have the right to sell the vehicle, because until the hire purchase or other credit agreement is settled in full the finance company still owns part of the vehicle.  As a buyer, this can mean that your new wheels can be tracked down by the finance company, who have the legal right to try and repossess the vehicle.  This problem can be solved by asking the seller to obtain a settlement figure for the vehicle, so that you can then factor this in to the price that you pay – but this is an issue that you definitely need to know about before you buy anything.

A vehicle history check also identifies cars that have been reported as stolen – which remain the legal property of the original owner – as well as those that have been insurance write offs, which may therefore be unsafe to drive.

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