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Buying a used car – Check it don’t regret it!

Check it don't regret it! from the Citizen’s Advice Bureau The Citizen’s Advice Bureau has released key consumer advice when it comes to buying a second hand cars, using the slogan “Check it, don’t regret it”, in order to encourage car buyers to undertake some basic checks before parting with their money.

Used cars are the biggest single issue being reported to Citizens Advice consumer service – it deals with over 80,000 used car problems a year.  The Citizen’s Advice Bureau in Scotland has publicized that nearly 100 people contact its consumer helpline every week due to problems with a used vehicle they’ve bought – and in 10% of these cases, the car is un-safe to drive.

As part of the campaign the Citizen’s Advice Bureau and Trading Standards are working together to increase buyer awareness about the potential pitfalls of buying a used car:

  • Coventry CAB worked with their local Trading Standards to turn the CAB forecourt into a used car dealership, flogging (pedal) cars to passing punters and driving home the educational messages in the process.
  • Havering CAB and their local Trading Standards have run a series of events, using a 50/50 vehicle (which has one side in working order, and one side with a host of deliberate faults), asking consumers to spot the problems

The Citizen’s Advice Bureau have provided a list of a few simple checks that can be made before buying a car, to make sure it’s safe, legal and what is expected.  Many of the recommended checks can be undertaken by consumers, or there are specialist companies that offer data checks.  A quick summary of the checklist include:

  • MOT certificate check
    Check the MOT – it shows the car was roadworthy when the test was passed.
    Check a car’s MOT history for free on GOV.UK at
    For MOT queries email VOSA or telephone 0300 123 9000.
  • Service history check
    Ask to see the full service history, to show what maintenance has been done on the car.
  • Registration document check (V5C)
    Check the registration document, to avoid buying a stolen car.
    Make a vehicle details enquiry for free on GOV.UK website at
    More information about making a vehicle check at
  • Write off check
    Check if the car has been written off. If it has, make sure it’s a genuine write off and not stolen.
    More about the VIC test at:
  • Finance history check
    Check the car doesn’t have an outstanding credit agreement or logbook loan.
  • Test drive and walkaround check
    Check the car and test drive it before you buy, to spot signs the car isn’t what it seems.
  • Engineer’s check
    Get a check to show the condition of the car and to check for any hidden dangers. You can also check that repairs have been completed properly if the car is a write off.
  • Price value guide check
    Check if you are being asked to pay an accurate price. This will vary depending on whether you are buying privately or from a dealer.
    You can find check secondhand car adverts in the press, trade publications and online. You can also find car valuation services online.
  • Car recalled check
    Check if the car has been recalled by the manufacturer for safety reasons for free on GOV.UK at

The full checklist is available from

Wigan Borough Citizens Advice operations manager, Kath Kidston, said: “Buying a second hand car can be bit of a bumpy road. Whether you have £500 or £5,000 to spend, it can be difficult to make sure the car you end up buying is in the condition as described by the dealer.

“Not only can drivers find themselves out of pocket or with a string of unexpected expenses, the car could be roadworthy or unsafe. But there are some simple steps drivers can take to make sure what they are buying is safe, legal and what it seems.”

One of the key ways to avoid issues when buying a used car is to go to a dealer that specialises in second hand cars, as reputable dealers will undertake many of the required checks and have a much stronger legal obligation to offer post-sale such as the Car Deal Warehouse, with dealerships in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dumfermline and Perth.

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