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The Ultimate Used Car Inspection Guide

Inspect a used vehicle like a Pro! Everything you need to know - All in one place.

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When you buy a car from a used-car dealer, the dealership will take care of all the paperwork for you, but when buying it from a private seller, it can sometimes be more risky but prices are generally lower and there are often quite a few bargains out there.
When buying from a private seller, you should always be viewing the car at the address shown on the registration document or car’s logbook. Make sure that the person selling the car is shown as the keeper – ask for another form of ID if you are not sure.
Checking a vehicle’s existing paperwork is a crucial part of establishing whether the car is all what it is made out to be. The paperwork provides information on the history and ownership of the car. Request the vehicle’s paperwork from the owner and study it thoroughly before you commit to anything. Cross check the paperwork – to make sure that mileage information, for instance, is consistent with the mileage displayed in the car, and that regular maintenance has been carried out.


Make sure the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) and registration on the documents match the car you are interested in. Check with the Vehicle Registration Authorities that the address and owner’s information is in line with the person selling the vehicle to make sure the car has not been stolen.

Service History

Examine the service history to make sure the recorded mileage increased at a consistent rate over the years. If not, the odometer could have been rolled back in an attempt to increase the car’s price. Ideally, you want to see a full service history, with receipts for any work carried out. You can also contact the garage to confirm any work without a receipt was actually done.

Registration documents

Check the details on the registration document match the car – there may sometimes be slight discrepancies, such as colour due to a difference of opinion, but everything else should match exactly. Make sure the form is genuine – it should have a watermark and not show signs of alteration.
Always insist on seeing the original registration and full service history documentation. Photocopies are not adequate and could be fake. If the owner seems reluctant to produce any of these documents or has some other excuse, it may be better to walk away from the deal.
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