When you buy a new vehicle, do you really check what it is that you are buying?
There are many stolen vehicles that are ‘disguised’ to make you believe you are buying the correct make and model. Here are a few tips you can consider when buying your next vehicle.
These tips are invaluable when buying from auction as many vehicles are “sold as seen”.
Seeing the vehicle for the first time
Make sure the seller either owns the vehicle, or is able to offer it for sale and consider the following:
- be careful of mobile phone numbers – it’s very hard to find their owners
- watch out for adverts giving a phone number and time to call – it could be a phone box
- arrange to see the vehicle in daylight at the seller’s home and not in a public place
- make sure the seller is familiar with the vehicle and its controls
What to look for when you check the vehicle
Make sure the vehicle’s identity and documents are correct. Satisfy yourself that everything is in order.
Check how the vehicle looks
Have a good look at the vehicle and be sure you are happy with its condition. Think about the following:
- see if the engine has been changed in any way
- check all the locks open with the same key – thieves will change locks that have been damaged
- check for signs of a forced entry
- see if the locking petrol cap has been forced or replaced
Checking the vehicle’s identity
When you decide what make and model you are interested in, find out where the vehicle identification number (VIN) is on that vehicle. You will then know where to look and check it’s correct. Also check:
- the VIN matches the one on the vehicle registration certificate (V5C)
- the surrounding area for signs of damage or alterations
- the part VIN or registration number etched on the windows matches the ones on the registration certificate and number plates
- all window etchings match each other including headlamps, tail lamps and sunroofs
- the engine number matches that on the registration certificate
- underneath stickers, where fitted – they can be used to conceal etchings
If the number is not on the vehicle, ask why not.
The vehicle has a ‘Q’ registration number
A ‘Q’ registration number means:
- the age or identity of the vehicle is not known
- the vehicle may have been rebuilt from old or new parts
- the vehicle may have been imported without proof of the vehicles age
The registration certificate should say why the vehicle has been registered with a ‘Q’ registration number.
The vehicle’s registration certificate
If you decide to buy a vehicle make sure the person selling it has the right to do so as the registration certificate isn’t proof that they own the vehicle.
Make sure you have the registration certificate and it matches the vehicle’s details.
Check the registration certificate and satisfy yourself that it is real. By holding it up to the light you can see the DVLA watermark in it. You can also phone DVLA on 0870 241 1878 to check the registration certificate is real before you buy.
Be on the lookout for stolen registration certificates. DVLA has provided a range of serial numbers of known stolen registration certificates. If you find one that is in the range of BG8229501 to BG9999030 or BI2305501 to BI2800000 do not proceed with the sale and contact the police.
If you can’t find a serial number or it looks like it has been altered or tampered with, or the vehicle is accompanied by only part of the registration certificate you should not go ahead with the sale.
Get someone else to check the vehicle for you
To help you decide whether to buy the vehicle you can also consider:
- taking an independent, qualified examiner with you to see the vehicle
- checking the vehicle’s details by phoning DVLA
- making enquiries with private vehicle check companies to ensure there is no outstanding finance on the vehicle