Drivers warned of ‘misleading scams’ when buying used cars online

Motoring: How to spot if a used car has been clocked

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According to new research, one in every 100 cars purchased online has a hidden past, despite being resold as pristine. Around 75,000 cars are sold and purchased in the UK each year for more than their worth.

This means one percent of all vehicles listed on auto trading websites have unseen and potentially hazardous faults.

These vehicles may also have a dubious background with data which wouldn’t show up on a standard vehicle history check.

Issues could range from clocked odometers to repaired write-offs offered as clean vehicles for much more than their actual value.

Ryan Fulthorpe, car insurance expert at GoCompare, warned drivers of the risks they face when buying a used car online.

He added: “In the UK, it is against consumer law to hide any information about a damaged car when advertising for sale.

“Despite this, thousands of vehicles are being sold under false assumptions, misleading potential buyers. 

“Carrying out some smart checks before making a purchase is essential to avoid being made a victim of a used car scam.”

Marcus Rockey, vehicle history expert at CarVeto, provided his top tips for drivers to make sure what they are buying is genuine and reliable.

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His first and potentially the most important tip is to always run a comprehensive vehicle history check.

Drivers shouldn’t always rely on an old report kept by the existing keeper or trader, as a vehicle’s history can change quickly.

When in the process of buying a vehicle, the V5C logbook should always be requested, which will also be vital before the seller taxes the vehicle.

This will ensure the buyer is aware of any previous owners and if any “categories” are recorded, such as it being an ex-taxi or has a suspicious history.

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If drivers are still uncertain about a vehicle, they can arrange a professional vehicle inspection to clear any doubts.

These inspections usually include a verbal and written report, vehicle examination and thorough checks of the overall mechanics and documentation checks.

This kind of inspection will normally cost and won’t provide any guarantees, but will offer peace of mind for buyers investing in a new car.

To help identify tampered odometers, motorists can look out for unusual wear and tear in the seats, steering wheel, door mirrors and cosmetics – particularly across the vehicle’s front end.

This often gives a physical indication of how many miles a car has travelled. 

Another step prospective buyers can take is to check the manufacturer database to confirm a vehicle’s services, dates, and mileage.

This will include any warranty work that may have been carried out.

It could be a red flag if this information doesn’t exist, especially with premium and luxury cars.

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