Guide to Buying a Used Vehicle
Table of Contents
This is the important part:
If you are going to buy a used car, you need to be extra cautious and check you are not buying one that someone stole from its rightful owner.
As a rule, buyers will have fewer consumer protection rights when they buy a used car from a private seller. That is why you should use the DVLA free stolen car check to ensure it has not been nicked.
Here’s the step by step guide:
In most cases, there will be four tasks to consider if you buy a second hand vehicle from a private seller. First and foremost, you need to carry out some basic checks on the documentation BEFORE you buy it!
Then, assuming it is a genuine sale, you would need to pay for it and register yourself as the new owner with the DVLA.
The third task will be getting adequate motor insurance to drive it legally on the road. The final step is to tax the vehicle before you actually use it on public roads and highways.
Note: UK law protects customers when buying a car from a garage dealer or registered trader. So, there is less importance in knowing how to check if a vehicle is stolen if you buy a brand new car.
Note: Follow the steps in this stolen vehicle checklist. They can help to reduce the risk of you buying a nicked or recalled second hand car.
DVLA Stolen Car Check Free
- Contact the seller and request some information about the vehicle. You will need some basic details to use the free DVLA car checker.
- Get the make, model, registration number, and MOT test number. You need these details to carry out a vehicle identity check.
- Cross reference the information for a match using the DVLA online vehicle enquiry service.
- Check the MOT history of a vehicle online to confirm that it is up to date.
- Ensure the information you have matches the MOT history.
Note: This service ‘Cael gwybodaeth cerbyd gan DVLA‘ is also available in Welsh language (Cymraeg).
Note: Use the registration number to check if car is stolen free. You should also view the V5C vehicle registration certificate (log book) before buying.
Vehicle Information available from DVLA
The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency store information about all registered vehicles. Providing you can get the registration number, you will be able to check the details online for free.
A DVLA check car shows various snippets of information and history, such as:
- When the most current road tax expires.
- When the MOT testing expires.
- Year of manufacture.
- Date it was first registered (with DVLA).
- The status of any Statutory Off Road Notification (where applicable).
- Engine size
- CO2 emissions (carbon dioxide).
- Current tax band rate.
There is another free online service to check if the vehicle is insured. Use the Motor Insurance Database (MID) to check vehicle insurance status.
Note: You can write to request information about a vehicle or its registered keeper from DVLA. But, they will only provide limited information if you contact DVLA by phone.
Checking the MOT History
This type of check would reveal the past results for MOT testing, including:
- Whether it passed or failed the test.
- Mileage recorded after the testing.
- The location for each test.
- Which parts failed at each test and if any of the parts had minor problems.
- The due date for its next MOT.
You will need the vehicle registration number. The results will show as soon as the MOT centre records the test result.
The test location will show up fourteen (14) days after the testing. You need the 11-digit number from the vehicle log book (V5C).
Note: Results of the MOT history check only show up for tests carried out in England, Scotland, or Wales since 2005.
Checking Vehicle Log Book for Stolen
- You should always inspect the V5C vehicle registration certificate (log book). A V5C check is especially important if you buy a used car from a private seller.
- The latest version V5C has a visible DVLA watermark on a red background if it is genuine.
- Check the V5C serial number is not on the stolen vehicle list.
- Contact the police if the number is between BG8229501 – BG9999030, or BI2305501 – BI2800000. Carry out this step in a safe environment.
- Ensure the log book details match the ones you already have. A thorough DVLA VIN check should include the vehicle identification number and the engine number.
Note: You should always report a stolen vehicle to the police. If your car gets stolen you should contact the insurer and the DVLA may also need informing.
Register a Vehicle with DVLA
So, the vehicle is not stolen and you decided to buy a used car from a private seller. Great… what’s next?
You must register it with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). But, the way you register it will depend on whether you are in possession of the V5C registration certificate (log book) or not.
You can check the most appropriate steps to take next in the master sections of:
- Vehicle registration for new and used vehicles
- How to get a vehicle log book V5C if you don’t have it
Note: The Home Office is looking into the feasibility of making a stolen cars UK database. The data would be openly accessible and identify the vehicle by registration number and VIN number (not the registered keeper).
Check for Vehicle Parts or Accessory Recalls
There are ways to check whether a vehicle, part, or an accessory has been recalled. The section on vehicle recalls and faults explains how to check if the manufacturer has recalled a vehicle, part or accessory due to a serious safety problem.
If you discover a problem you would need to get it fixed or replaced by the manufacturer. As a rule, there would be no charge for replacement parts or for any necessary repairs.
Insuring Your Vehicle
You would need to get adequate motor insurance before you start using the vehicle on the road. Other sections cover important topics on:
Taxing the Vehicle
Unless the vehicle is exempt from road tax you need to tax it before you can use it on the public roads or highways. Read more information in the master sections that explain:
We make every effort to deliver accurate and up to date information on DVLA vehicle checks. But, we cannot guarantee total accuracy due to several data suppliers being involved in the process of updating records.