Buying a second hand car…

Buying a car through a dealership is generally considered the safer option because you are protected by the Consumer Rights Act.

You don’t get the same protection when you’re buying from a private seller, but the car must still match the description in the advert, or what the seller has told you. If it doesn’t, you could have a claim under the Misrepresentation Act.


It’s also worth knowing when a car has been written off it is placed into a category; A, B, C and D, based on the extent of the damage.

Cat D – The cost to repair the car is expected to be less than the car’s value pre-accident. The car is allowed to be repaired and put back on the road.

Cat C – The cost to repair the car is more than the value of the car before the accident, but can still be put back on the road.

Cat B – Cars aren’t allowed back on the road. The parts can be sold on or saved for spares.

Cat A – Scrapped, there is nothing left to salvage.

If a private owner wishes to sell a Cat C car, he/she is NOT obliged to tell the prospective buyer, however, if a car is bought from a dealer the dealer is required to inform the prospective purchaser.

Content sourced from the Confused website

Top tips:

1. Always check the Vehicle Registration Mark (number plate)

2. Do a history check to see if the car has previously been written off or stolen

3. If you buy with cash it’s easier to barter for a discount

Content sourced from the Autotrader website

Things to look out for on a second-hand car or one bought at auction:

  • Look for scratches, dents, and uneven gaps between panels, these may owe to poor repairs or damage from an accident

  • Make sure the paint is an even colour across the entire car, if not, this could also be a poor repair

  • Check lights and indicators are working (if indicators are flicking fast it normally means the bulb is going)

  • Make sure when you push the car at each corner that it springs back to ensure the suspension is intact

  • Make sure the mileage matches up with the paperwork, and that the mileage reflects the state of the car (e.g. if very high mileage then don’t expect a perfectly conditioned car, if very low mileage don’t expect to see warn pedals or frayed fabric on the seats)

  • Make sure all the buttons, levers and devices work