Advice from the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC)

Buying a used car? Make sure you do these important checks first

Leitrim Observer Reporter


Leitrim Observer Reporter

Buying a car

Buying a new car? Here are things you need to check before finalising the deal.

Have you finally found your dream car? What, if any checks have you done on the car’s condition or have you checked to see if the car has outstanding finance or if it has ever been crashed?

Before you buy the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) has some information on important checks you should carry out:

Check you have asked the important questions?

There are some key questions you need to ask the seller before you buy. These include:

- Has the car ever been crashed?

- Is the mileage accurate? Has the car been clocked?

- Is there any outstanding finance on the car?

- Has any bodywork been done to it (by you or by others)? This could have been done to cover up serious issues such as rust or damage from a previous crash.

Before you hand over any money ask yourself:

Have you carried out the appropriate checks on the car and are you satisfied that the car has no major faults?

Check the condition of the car

You should get the car independently checked by a mechanic. If you don’t have a mechanic with you it can be difficult to tell if everything is in working order.

If you are buying from a garage, you should look for a warranty for the car. However, this will depend on the age and price of the car. If the car is reasonably new and the garage is not willing to give you a warranty, this should raise concerns regarding the condition of the car.

Check the history of the car 

There are a number of companies who can check the history of a car for you for a fee, you can search online to find a company to carry out this service.

This check may uncover details which the seller is trying to hide such as whether or not the car was ever written-off, the true mileage of it or if there is outstanding finance on it.

Check that the car you are buying is not under an existing finance agreement. If it is, the person trying to sell the car does not actually own it and may not have the right to sell it to you. If you buy a car with outstanding finance, the legal owners, in this case a financial institution, can repossess the car from you.

You can use the CCPC’s car buyer’s checklist to help you know exactly what you should be looking for. It will also help you keep track and compare different cars easily.

You should be looking to get the previous recorded odometer readings, details of any insurance claims or if the car has been used as a taxi and details of any crashes.

Check the paperwork of the car

Ask the seller to show you the Vehicle Registration Certificate (VRC) if the car is Irish. If the car is an import from the UK ask to see the V5C. These documents are the ownership documents for the car. The person selling the car must correspond to the name on the V5C or VRC, and you should ask for proof of identity if buying from an individual, as opposed to a garage.

The VRC has a 10 digit number on the top right hand corner of the first page known as the Chassis number. It should look like C061234567. For 2009 this would be C091234567 and so on. Take down these numbers and match them when getting your car history check. If the number does not match the document could be forged and the car may be stolen.

Make sure that all other documentation, including, VRT, NCT, motor tax disc and car handbook relate to that car and are original - not photocopies.

Check who you are buying from

If you buy a second-hand car from a dealer or garage you have rights under consumer law. The car should be of merchantable quality – this means that it should be of reasonable, acceptable quality given the age, cost and history of the car; it should be fit for the purpose intended and roadworthy. It should also match the description of the car given verbally or in the advertisement.

If you buy the car from a private seller, you do not have the same consumer rights if something goes wrong, because the person selling the car is not acting as a business. Make sure you get the car independently checked by a mechanic before you buy.

Visit the car checks information on the CCPC’s website for more detailed information on all the checks you should do before you buy a second-hand car.