How to Check A Used Vehicle Before Buying

The starting point is to consider the level of guarantee that you need with a used car. If you need expert assurance that the vehicle is safe and has no serious hidden problems then a main dealer garage would be a good choice, whereas if you are willing to take a risk to get a lower price then buying from a private seller or a car auction may be your choice.

Independent garages, private sellers, eBAY etc all have their advantages and disadvantages for you to consider.

Before you see the vehicle

  1. Ask the seller for the registration number, make and model and MOT test number
  2. Check the details match those of the registration on the DVLA website at
  3. Check the MOT status and history for the vehicle at
  4. Check if the vehicle has been recalled due to a serious safety issue at

When you go to see the vehicle

  1. Ask to see the V5C vehicle registration certificate (‘log book’). Make sure it has a ‘DVL’ watermark and make sure the details in the log book match the details you’ve been given.
  2. Check the vehicle identification number and engine number if possible, to ensure they match the details in the log book.

These checks do not guarantee any vehicle is safe but they do give some peace of mind and will help you avoid the worst scams and other problems.

The government website at gives detailed advice on what to check and how to get the necessary information when looking to buy a used car.

If you have any experiences with these scams do let me know, by email.

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