Document checklist for buying a used car 

Whether you are buying a new car privately or from a dealership, it is always advisable to make the appropriate checks to ensure that the car is roadworthy, legal and safe. You can make many of these checks yourself using helpful and free data websites. Below is a short checklist of what to check and how you make that check.

MOT Certificate Check

To check that an MOT certificate is genuine, you can check the MOT history of a vehicle online and for free at GOV.UK. To complete this check you will need:

  • The vehicles registration number
  • The vehicles MOT test number (this is on the MOT certificate and should be able to be supplied by the person/ dealership selling the vehicle).

Registration Document Check

To avoid buying a stolen car, it is always advisable to check the registration document of the vehicle that you intend to purchase. You can carry out a registration document check by asking the person/ dealership to produce the V5 document, otherwise known as the log book, for the vehicle in question. You can then use the DVLA’s online database to ensure that these records and the logbook match.

Service History Check:

Ask to view the service history of the vehicle so that you can see what previous repairs have been carried out. Additionally, use this documentation to check that the mileage stated matches what is on the documentation as well as checking that the car has been regularly serviced over the years.

Write-off check:

If a vehicle has been classified as a ‘write-off’ then it means that an insurance company has deemed the vehicle as too dear to repair or too damaged after an accident. There are different categories of write off depending upon the damage and whether or not the vehicle can be repaired.

You can check if the vehicle you intend to buy has previously been or is currently classified as a write-off by viewing the V5C registration documents. If there is a VIC (vehicle identity check) marker present, then the vehicle is not roadworthy until specified repairs have been made and a VIC test completed on the vehicle.

One final note: Once you have completed the relevant document checks and have purchased your new car, please be advised that in order to drive it home you will legally need to be insured. Budget insurance can not only offer you annual cover, but in the case where you need immediate short term cover, we offer temporary cover from 1 to 28 days. For more information or to get a quote please visit our car insurance and temporary car insurance pages.

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