Your Car Checks When Buying A Used Car

Vehicles VIN (vehicle identification number)

The VIN (vehicle identification number) on a vehicle is a unique way to identify a vehicle, the VIN will never change on a vehicle and can be a combination of both numbers and letters.

How to find a VIN number on a vehicle

Location 1: Passenger side of the vehicle, on the dashboard pointing towards the windscreen.

Location 2: Found by opening the driver side door, on the inner frame near where the door latches.

Important notes

  • Make sure the vehicle VIN last 4 digits matches that of your deluxe check (remember the VIN should never change).
  • Make sure the VIN is identical at each location of the vehicle.
  • Make sure the VIN doesn’t look altered or strange.
  • If you find a vehicle with a VIN that starts with the letters “SABTVRO” then this means the vehicle has been re stamped by the Ministry of Transport. This means the real identity of the vehicle and vehicle details such as the age are questionable. So, it’s probably not worth the hassle.

Vehicles engine number

Make sure your deluxe check engine number matches that of the vehicle you are looking to buy, if it doesn’t match that means the engine has been changed. Whilst this may be a legitimate engine change the problem is confirming the new engines mileage. And in some cases, engine swaps can be a method to hide the vehicles real identity.

How to find the engine number

Open the vehicles bonnet, the engine number is normally engraved into the metal of the engine (on the top of the engine).

V5C Log Book Date

It’s worth noting that you should never buy a vehicle if the V5C log book isn’t part of the deal.

How to find the V5C Log Book Date

To find the V5C Log book issue date turn to the second page of the log book, the issue date should be visible and clear to see on this page.

Important notes

  • If the V5C log book date does not match your deluxe check V5C log book date, then it could mean something is being hidden from you and it’s not worth taking any chances.
  • If the V5C log book reference starts BI or BG then do not buy the vehicle as 2.2 million blank V5C log books beginning with these reference numbers got stolen in 2006.

Further important checks

Make sure the seller provides the V5C log book and the log book issue date matches the deluxe check date.
Make sure the V5C log book details are all correct and match the vehicle being sold.
Check the person selling the car is in fact the registered keeper and owner of the vehicle.
Ask the person selling the car for identification to make sure the sale is genuine and not someone else selling you a stolen car.
If your vehicle knowledge isn’t up to scratch, consider taking someone with vehicle expertise with you to check out the vehicle.
Check if the vehicle has a valid MOT certificate (if the vehicle is 3 years or older).
Check if the vehicle has a spare key, if the seller doesn’t give you one, ask them to make sure they don’t have one.
Get a receipt for the vehicle purchase, this can be an easy thing to forget about.
Is the vehicle sale price too good to be true? If so ask the seller why they are selling the vehicle cheap.