Buying and selling

Buyer beware: how to spot a used car that’s been cloned

Buyer beware how to spot a used car that's been cloned

Buy a cloned car in good faith and it is likely to be impounded by the police, and you’ll have nothing to show for your money

Most people will be familiar with identity theft. Criminals gain valuable sensitive information about an individual in order to impersonate them and take out loans or credit in their name. But how many drivers have heard of cloned cars? And even if the expression is familiar, how do you tell a fake, cloned car from a genuine model?

A cloned car is a model that has been stolen then given a new identity. This is generally by replacing its number plates with those from a car that’s the same make, model, colour and even age. It means that the car won’t register as dodgy in basic ID checks such as those from police Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras.

It’s a problem that more drivers need to be aware of. Last week, eBay hit the headlines after it was revealed that organised criminals in Manchester had been using the popular car buying site to sell stolen cars as legitimate vehicles.

It means that when drivers fail to conduct full and thorough checks of a used car, they can end up handing over a small fortune for a car that will be taken off their hands by the police, leaving them with no car and no money. Meanwhile, the crooks vanish into thin air.

One victim, a retired police officer, lost £17,000 buying a Mercedes. Another paid more than £18,000 for a BMW that turned out to be stolen and was soon returned to its rightful owner by police, leaving him penniless.

These are the steps every used car buyer should take to protect themselves from buying a cloned car.

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Is Britain’s car finance market in danger of PPI style scandal?

Is Britain's car finance market in danger of a PPI mis-selling scandal?

How did you buy your car? If you entered into a finance agreement to help afford the model of your dreams, experts are warning that you could be a victim of the nation’s next potential mis-selling scandal.

Failing to explain the terms and conditions of complicated loan products and the true cost of borrowing could mean thousands of British drivers have been mis-sold finance products. It’s similar to the way payment protection insurance (PPI) was scandalously mis-sold.

Those are the warnings from analysts who allege thousands of drivers on PCP (personal contract purchase) deals may have been sold the loans without having the terms properly explained to them. The fear is they may be unable to keep up payments in an economic slump.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is now investigating the industry. It fears less well-off customers may be paying too much for credit. But its findings won’t be reported until next year. In the meantime, what measures can drivers take to see if they might be affected? Continue reading

Finance confusion: new scheme to help drivers pick more honest dealers

Finance confusion

The customer thinks he understands what the dealer’s saying but actually he could be about to buy something he doesn’t need

Finance confusion is leading drivers to feel as if they’ve been overcharged or mis-sold products when they buy a car. But that could be about to change.

Dealers selling financial packages are being encouraged to sign up to a new accreditation scheme. This will enable customers to tell instantly whether their dealer has any code of conduct to abide by when selling financial and insurance products. The aim is to stop dealers bamboozling car buyers with confusing jargon to sell them things they may not need.

What’s behind the changes?

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Car pictures: the best way to photograph the car you want to sell

Car pictures

Choose an uncluttered background, ideally with plenty of space around the car

You’ve decided to sell your car privately which means you need to take some car pictures. And car photography is easy, right? You just go outside, bang off a few snaps with the smartphone and it’s job done. You could take that approach. But selling for the best possible price is a competitive business, and the first thing anyone is going to see when they view your advert is the pictures so it pays to have good images that show the car in its best possible light.

Cars are actually very difficult things to photograph. But follow these tips and you’ll have a good chance of capturing images that make your motor stand out.

Before you reach for your camera…

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What’s the best way of financing a new car purchase?

Financing a car

Smashing this little fella or taking a loan? What’s the best way to finance a car?

Recent rises in new car sales have been fuelled by drivers using finance to buy the car of their dreams. But with so many different types of finance, many motorists are unsure which is best for their needs, and which will prove the most affordable. If you’re one of the majority of car buyers that’s happy to pay a monthly sum for their motoring rather than owning a car outright, it pays to do your homework and compare products, just as you would compare cars. Here we look at the main ways of financing a new car through the pros and cons of each.

Buying outright

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Beat the bogus buyers: how to safely sell a used car privately

Beat the bogus buyers: how to safely sell a used car privately

When selling a car, what driver doesn’t want to get the most money for their motor? That’s why each year nearly three million people choose to advertise their car for sale and handle the process themselves. They can cut out a dealer – or more significantly, the dealer’s margin – and secure the best price for their used car.

However, police and the largest online classified car retailers are warning drivers to beware of bogus buyers.

Car thieves are posing as legitimate used car buyers, as they seek easy prey. And drivers are being warned that if they don’t take sensible steps to protect their vehicle, few insurers will settle any subsequent claim against theft.

But what measures can drivers take to stay safe when selling a car? Here are tips from the experts; if you know anyone selling their car, pass them on. Continue reading

Pickup trucks: which are the best for towing, fuel economy and families?

Pick up trucks: which are the best for towing, fuel economy and families?

British drivers don’t have to cast their mind too far back to remember when pick-up trucks were exclusively the preserve of big, burly builders who’d never heard of a hard hat, let alone a health and safety risk assessment.

These days, pick-up trucks are a common sight. There have been great advances in choice and quality, increasing the pick-up truck’s appeal to more self-employed people than ever. They’re noticeably better to drive, more fuel efficient and more comfortable and safe for a family – without being any less hardworking.

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Car value: How much is your car worth?

Car value

You never know, you might be pleasantly surprised when you discover how much your car is really worth

The value of a car is important for most drivers. Whether you want to buy or sell a motor, or just make yourself feel better (or worse!) about how much it’s worth, knowing a car’s value is vital. It’ll enable you to confirm that a car you’re buying has been fairly priced and know that you’re not losing precious pounds on one that you’re selling.

But as few car owners work in the motor trade, what’s the best way to calculate your car’s value? Happily there are many tools available to help with this. Read on to find out how to value any used car.

Car value: try sales or auction sites

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Diesel car ban: Will it really happen and what does it mean for drivers?

Diesel car ban

About half these cars will be diesel. Could they really be banned?

Will there really be a diesel car ban? It’s been a hot topic among drivers for the past couple of years and as time passes it seems to get ever hotter. At the end of 2016 it was revealed that by 2025 diesel cars would be forbidden from entering Paris, Madrid, Athens and Mexico City. There are rumours that London could follow suit and the capital’s Westminster Council has already revealed it will charge diesel drivers extra to park.

Later this year, there will be a change to the congestion charge. Owners of older, more polluting vehicles will pay a supplement of £10 to enter to congestion charge zone. Five other UK cities have been told they can create clean air zones. These would also permit local authorities to charge diesel drivers for coming into city centres. So what do these proposals mean for owners of diesel cars and drivers considering buying them?

Why are diesel cars being punished?

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What every driver needs to know about the 2017 VED car tax changes

Car tax

Did you know that the car tax regulations will change in April, 2017? Big alterations are afoot after the government calculated that increasingly fuel efficient cars are leaving it out of pocket.

That’s because currently, the annual tax drivers pay to be on the road is calculated according to how much carbon dioxide (CO2) comes out of their car’s exhaust. And around 25 per cent of all new cars are so clean that, guess what? They’re exempt from road tax.

But from next April anybody that buys a new car will face a new regime of car tax. And overnight it will make many of the UK’s most popular new motors much more expensive to own.  Continue reading