Buying a used car at an official dealership normally guarantees the car you have chosen is being sold as described. However, many cars are bought and sold through private sellers.
With a survey revealing 45% of those buying privately felt ‘deceived’ after their transaction, we’ve looked into how consumers can avoid potential financial shortfalls due to previous vehicle owners.
‘One previous owner’
While consumer protection laws stipulate used car dealers cannot create ‘a misleading impression about previous vehicle usage’, some sellers are failing to highlight if a car was previously used by a hire firm, or for fleet purposes.
This can be problematic because a fleet or rental car will have been driven by multiple people, all of whom have different driving styles and attitudes. Unfortunately, some people treat rentals with less care, which means a new buyer may have to pay for unexpected repairs sooner than they anticipate.
Having a car warranty can be beneficial when purchasing a used vehicle because if you experience unexpected issues, failing parts due to wear and tear can be covered. You can contact Warranty Direct for more information on this and to receive a quote.
Make the necessary checks
The best way to find out information on a previous owner is to have a HPI check performed on the car before purchase. This will tell you about any outstanding finance, logbook loans, write-offs and mileage. Don’t rely on the vendor showing you their HPI report though, as fake checks can be produced for this very reason.
Before making any commitment to buy, you should also ask to see the V5 document which, validates the ‘one previous owner’ claim and names the registered keeper or business.
Ensuring reliable repairs documentation
Some may want to hide the number of repairs their vehicle has had and this is potentially one of the reasons it’s estimated there are currently more than 200,000 stolen V5C registration documents, or logbooks, in circulation.
Discrepancies in repairs documents could leave new owners with problems, because when previous, unknown repairs are discovered, this could increase insurance costs. If you find out the vehicle was actually previously written off, many insurers could refuse to cover it at all.
However, there are ways consumers can combat these issues, such as ensuring log book details match what you’ve been given and checking the V5C document has a ‘DVL’ watermark. The serial number should not be between BG8229501 to BG9999030, or BI2305501 to BI2800000. If it is, the V5C might be stolen and you should call the police as soon as it’s safe to.
It is estimated 1 in 16 cars have altered mileage, so if you are in the market for a new car, this is something to watch. The amount of miles could affect insurance costs, as higher mileage could mean higher risk of vehicle failure.
Discrepancies could also invalidate your car warranty as many companies won’t cover a car if it has done over the agreed number of miles covered by your warranty. This means if the ‘real’ mileage goes over your agreed provider limit you will not be covered.
However, there are ways to spot mileage alterations. Many manufacturers now programme speed odometers to show an asterisk if mileage is changed. Another way to key the mileage is to look in the service history book, which will have mileage listed at each service.
When purchasing a second-hand car, you’re probably not thinking about the security risks due to recent advances in technology.
As most major car manufacturers now allow you to control your car from phone apps, a previous owner could still have access to that app, and your car could be operated by someone other than yourself. The only way to prevent this is by going to a factory-authorised dealership and revoking app access from the previous owner.
Checking a previous owner is vital to ensure you don’t end up paying for unexpected repairs and you’re not unknowingly invalidating your warranty or insurance. With these simple tips, we hope our customers will be able to protect themselves more easily from untrustworthy sellers.