Buying a car? Give it the once-over first

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Car Buying Risks

There are many reasons to buy a used car; they're cheaper, and unlike new cars, you don't feel the punch from depreciation as soon as you drive it off the forecourt. The used market also offers you a huge range of choices. However, risks abound when dipping your toe into the second hand vehicle market. Be aware of the many problems that could come up when buying used.

Buying a Car with Outstanding Finance

When you buy a car that has been bought with a hire purchase agreement, or has an outstanding loan taken out for it, this means that the company financing the purchase keeps a legal interest in the vehicle until the loan has been completely paid off.

If you do not inform the finance company of vehicle sale, and start paying off the outstanding finance, they may attempt to repossess it. If you did not know of any outstanding finance on the vehicle, you will need to prove so to them. This can take a long time, and is ultimately a very stressful and difficult experience.

Buying a Car that has been Written Off

Cars can become an insurance write off for a couple of reasons. The vehicle could have been damaged to such a degree that the insurance company does not think it is worth repairing. Damage write offs can in some cases be made safe again, but any inspection and repair should be undertaken by a reputable garage. Vehicles written off because of damage may not have any initially obvious signs of any accident, so buyers should always use a qualified mechanic to check the vehicle and also make a full check of bodywork themselves.

Cars may also be written off because of theft. This means that the vehicle was reported stolen, and the insurance company has paid out a claim on it. In this case the insurance company also assumes ownership of the vehicle. Buying a car that has been written off because of theft is not advisable; you may find your new purchase being repossessed very quickly.

Buying a Stolen Vehicle

With more than 160,000 vehicles recorded as stolen in the Police National Computer every year, it's a sad fact that many of these are attempted to be passed off as normal used cars for sale. If you are misfortunate enough to buy a car that has been taken without consent, sooner or later you will lose the vehicle to the original owner, or their insurer. You will be left with no legal rights to the vehicle, and will be out of pocket. The only way to reclaim any losses involve suing the person who sold you the car, though they are not likely to hang around if they are in the business of selling stolen vehicles!

Buying a High Risk Vehicle

Car checking companies and the police keep databases of vehicles that third parties, such as insurance companies, financiers and others, are actively looking for; due to monies owed on them, insurance claims made, or other legal issues. With over 190,000 vehicles on these databases, and more being added all the time, you want to make sure the car you are buying is not one of the many featured.

Buying a Clocked Vehicle

Dodgy dealers and sellers often try and wind back the odometer on a vehicle, in an attempt to make it look like it has travelled fewer miles, and thus appear more valuable. There are a number of sources of previous mileage values, but not many of them available to the general public. Up to 1 in 16 vehicles checked via car checking services show some sort of mileage discrepancy.