Buying a used car

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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Buying used cars: how to spot a bad one

Buying a used car: how to spot a bad one

British drivers like to make their money go a long way, which is why most of us buy used cars. Around 7.2 million are sold every year, compared with 2.6 million new models. And because a new car can’t have been crashed, clocked or cloned, this means the majority of car buyers are vulnerable to unscrupulous sellers trying to pass off a bad used car as a good one.

There are all sorts of tricks of the trade that can be employed to pull the wool over the eyes of a used car buyer. The Green Flag blog has covered some of the important checks that drivers should carry out before parting with their cash for a car. But here we’re looking at less obvious tips that can help drivers spot a bad car – also known as a dud, or lemon.

To make sure your next car doesn’t leave you with a bitter taste in your mouth, read on.  Continue reading

Why October is a great time for a used car bargain – and how to haggle with dealers

Used car bargain

What driver doesn’t love bagging a used car bargain? Saving thousands of pounds can give a warmer glow than spending two weeks on a sun lounger in the Med. And there are few better times of the year than October to buy a great car at a knockdown price.

Every March and September, the registration prefix changes for new cars. It’s a way for drivers and the motor trade to differentiate between the age of cars, and in a nation obsessed about keeping up with the Joneses, the effect is to create dramatic seasonal spikes in new car sales.

This is great news for the canny car buyer. The market is flooded with second-hand cars that have been traded in as a part-exchange, and when there’s more supply than demand, car dealers have to pull together some seriously competitive deals to help sell all that second-hand stock.

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New car add-ons: Do you really need them?

new car add-ons

They might not be smiling as much when they realise they’ve paid over the odds for a product they don’t need…

September is one of the busiest months for new car sales. For the tens of thousands of drivers upgrading their car, one thing’s certain: they won’t escape the dealership without being offered a host of new car add-ons which will come with the promise of protecting their investment. But do drivers really need them?

For sales executives, extras such as GAP insurance, wheel and tyre protection, an extended warranty and pre-paid servicing are ways of getting extra money out of customers. Just as extended warranties are a tried and trusted means of electrical goods retailers getting customers to pay more for their purchases, so are new car add-ons. We look at the most popular and assess whether they’re worth ticking on the list or flicking and ignoring.

New car add-ons: servicing packages

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Affordable and fun: the best £5000 cars for first-time drivers

First-time drivers

Tom Daley chose the Mini One after passing his driving test, aged 17, in 2011 (Picture © Mini)

No matter whether you’re a newly qualified 17-year old driver or a little older and only just taking to the road, choosing the best car as a first-time driver is a big step.

Spending a few hundred pounds on an old runaround can be tempting. But remember, reliability may not be guaranteed and they may not be as good to drive or as safe in an accident as more modern cars. That’s why we’ve set the bar at £5000; it affords first time drivers a relatively new and safe car with all mod cons.

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How to check a used car’s V5C logbook and MOT are genuine

How to check the V5C and MOT documents are genuine

It would be nice to imagine that when buying a used car, every vendor is as trustworthy as a girl guide and each handshake worth as much as a legally binding written contract. Sadly, there’s no shortage of unscrupulous, shady characters who make Tony Soprano seem positively saintly. And that’s why it’s important to check a used car’s V5C registration document and MOT.

The V5C is essentially the authorities’ record of who owns, or is responsible for a car. When someone selling a car produces it, a buyer can use the V5C to check that the vehicle is what it claims to be, and that the person selling it is the car’s owner and entitled to sell it.

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