Estimated Time to Read: 3 minutes

If you are buying a used car, you assume that it everything is legal and above board, after all you are entering into a good faith contract and you assume that this good faith applies to the seller too. Rather than rely on the word of the person selling the car, it is actually the responsibility of the buyer to check into the past of the vehicle. If you were to buy a car in good faith only to discover later that it is actually a stolen vehicle the police can come and seize it, leaving you without transport and substantially out of pocket.  Even if you bought the car under a finance agreement – if the car is seized the finance company will still require payment under the terms of the agreement. It is not obvious to tell whether or not the car that you are buying has been stolen, these cars tend to have their identity altered before they are put on sale. But by following some simple rules you can greatly reduce the risk of buying a stolen car.

Things to Check

Never assume that any deal that you are entering into is all above board and legal. Follow these simple steps to keep yourself and your money safe.

  • Take the time to invest in a history/background check on the car. It will only cost you a few pounds and could end up saying you thousands if you later find out that it has been written off or stolen.
  • Make sure that the cars log book – V5C document is original and not a photocopy. The original copy will bear the watermark of the DVLA.
  • Stolen vehicles are rarely sold with a log book, the seller may claim that it has been returned to the DVLA for updating purposes such as to notify them of a change of address, or some other excuse. They may be telling the truth, but there is no way for you to check. Tell them you will wait until they have the log book back before entering into any agreement over the sale of the car.
  • Check the identity of the seller. Make sure that the name and address that is sown on the log book matches the details of the person selling the car, ask to see their driving license or utility bill to verify proof of identity.
  • Take a look under the bonnet and make sure that the VIN number (Vehicle Identification Number), as well as the license plate match those shown on the log book.


You need to know that the car hasn’t been clocked, which means that you need to be sure that the milometer on the car is showing the correct mileage. A car might be advertised as having a low mileage when it could have been run into the ground. Clocking can be easy to spot if you know what you are looking for.

  • Check the mileage shown on the clock against that shown on old MOT certificates and in the service history documentation for the car.
  • If you are buying a car with an old analogue milometer make sure that all of the barrels on the display are lined up correctly.

Are you looking to buy second hand? Why not buy new instead? Search cars on finance now only at Motor Loans Direct – what’s more, get lots of information on what to watch out for.