Car Buying : How not to Buy a Nail


Car buying
If only we could be as happy as this shot


Buying a car is often the fun part of buying a car. There is excitement of discovery, as you go looking at the cars, the feeling of trying something else as well as generally trying something new, or at least new to you.


However, let’s be honest. If you need a car quickly be that it is your only means of viable transportation or that you simply are too impatient the buying process is also one of the biggest chores of car ownership. Taking time out to travel can be stressful, in some instances the discovery of a new car also can put a question mark on how good the car is, or whether it is the little gem the owner said it is cracked up to be, or worse, have finance owing on it or it simply not being the car it claims to be. Then if you buy the car you have to hope that you can actually get somewhere!


But in recent times I seem to be doing something right and in the instances I follow these rules it seems to work well. If it were me I would check any car on the following 5 things:


-MOT History Check

-HPI Check

-Check Everything Works in the Car, Everything!

-Drive It!



  • MOT History Check

Screen Shot 2016-04-18 at 20.03.54

This example is where technology really can be used to your advantage. Best of all it is now free and easier to obtain!


The best part? All you need for this check is a registration number and make of the vehicle.

Now to the fun bit. Take a look through the previous MOTs and try to get a photo of what you are looking at.  While a few minor advisories shouldn’t worry you, keep eye out on some that should.  Likewise, see if the condition of the car reflects whether the car is worthy of zero advisories…

It has been rumoured that people have been removing from MOT paperwork, so this is a great way to see what the seller is hiding.


2) HPI Check

A sample report of an HPI check

This is a tricky one for sure. Yes I know the checks are around £20 a go, but it could also save you a lot of grief. If you are that worried buy a few and sell a few to your friends; they will benefit from the discount also.


While I do not mind a written off CAT D car under certain conditions (mainly if it is old and where new parts with labour times would render repairing the car uneconomic to repair) I can appreciate that this is not for everyone. Some CAT D cars I have bought have been in better condition than unrecorded cars, so it can serve as a helpful tool as well.  A number plate transfer shouldn’t also scare you either.


What would concern me more is a stolen register where the car had not been recovered in addition to outstanding finance ; this could leave you in trouble.


On another note, ensure the check comes only from HPI, Experian or the RAC ; there are reports of other mobile services either not giving the full information or in some cases outdated data.


  • Check Number correlation between the V5 (Logbook) and the Car

V5 Info

If nothing else is taken away from this article I do hope that this is! It is a paramount that this point is considered. While engine numbers may not be a cause for concern if the Vehicle Identification No.) VIN of the car does not match the logbook then I’d walk away.


  • Check everything electrical inside the car
This may seem idiotic but it could save you a world of pain

This can be taken in many ways, but you would be surprised how many cars I have come across where it has been described as being in perfect working order, only for this not to be the case. Even if it is a hot summer’s day check that the heater works in every possible position ; failure to do so could cost you.


4) Drive the car

Now this can also be a tricky and for the purposes of the article I will state a couple of things

-Ensure you have insurance on the car

-Be prepared to put down cash for the cash – After all if you bend it you mend it.

To me it doesn’t matter who is trying to sell the car. I have had friends lie to me about how bad a car really is, as well as punters.

It really does surprise me just how many people fail to do this and go with faith that the car will be fine.

With all of these checks done hopefully this will build on the foundations of buying a good car and not look like this guy:



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