Safety Guide



It's exciting buying car, but it can be daunting too, as there are so many things you have to consider. Working out what to buy, where to buy it and how to buy something that isn't a liability can be a minefield, but if you do your homework you can minimise the risks.

One of the ways you can minimise risks is by making sure the vehicle is fully HPI checked as it will flag up whether the car is an insurance write-off, has been stolen or has outstanding finance on it, or if it's been clocked etc.



Indeed you want to think carefully when choosing your first or the next car.

The type of car for fun, a coupe and convertible may be, or if you are buying a family car a hatchback, estate, MPV or SUV will be more appropriate.

Petrol or diesel – For high mileage diesel is probable better suit but watch out for noises coming out of government as policies are expected not favouring diesel cars. Petrol cars are often more reliable but we are about to witness an explosion of all electric cars. You also want to establish what the insurance and servicing costs will be and last but not the least reliability.

Automatic or manual – Automatic transmission can be a real bonus with today's traffic levels, but vehicles tend to be more thirsty, less reliable and more costly to buy. You could consider a high-mileage ex-company car, as these tend to be very affordable, generally better cared for mechanically and most of the miles will have been covered at running temperature. Low-mileage cars that have done lots of very short journeys will have been run cold most of the time – and that's really bad news for the engine.



What is more important to you; saving money or having peace of mind?

Buying privately – till Car Trust launch first of its kind in the UK secured and facilitated platform which not only offers peace of mind but also great savings. It is the same case while selling vehicle privately via Car Trust.

You can go to dealer but you will pay significantly more to purchase and get less while selling. Additionally, some dealers trade as private sellers so they don't have to comply with an array of rules, so be wary. A good start is to see how long they've owned the car they're now selling.

Franchised dealers – usually have the newer cars in stock, which will often be better cared for and have lower mileages. A warranty has to be offered and you have protection, but prices also tend to be the highest here.

Independent dealers – Generally offer the same facilities as a franchised dealer, but the cars tend to be higher mileage so they're a bit more affordable. You still get a warranty in most of the case.

Car supermarkets – offer low prices and tend to focus on mainstream cars, but there's usually plenty of choice.

Auctions – the lowest prices are here, but also risk of buying vehicle with lots of problems.  You typically get just one hour's warranty covering only major parts of the car. Buy badly and you're almost certainly on your own.



Before you can make a decision on buying a car you need to ensure that the paperwork is in order. The key pieces of paper you need are:

V5C (Logbook) – don't buy a car without one of these and make sure it's genuine by looking for the watermark. The V5C tells you how many owners the car has had and who it's registered to, but that person isn't necessarily the legal owner of the car. If there's no V5C to hand, you can apply for a new one – but why isn't it available? If it's been mislaid, the vendor should have applied for a replacement before selling.

MOT – all cars require an MoT roadworthiness check from three years after their date of first registration. If a car isn't MoTed it can't be taxed – and neither will it be insured.

Tax – there's no more requirement to display a tax disc and the DVLA no longer issues them. When a car is sold, the vendor has to cash in the road tax so you'll have to buy your own.

Service History – ideally the car will have been maintained regularly and what you're after is proof of regular servicing. You can also ensure the mileage goes up in the right stages. If there's no service history, you've got no evidence that the car has been maintained.



You don't have to be mechanically minded to check out the basics, as it may be obvious that the car has been neglected or poorly repaired after a crash. If you can't afford a professional inspection but you're really not comfortable making your own checks, get the car MoTed which can be done at any time. MOT is not as comprehensive as a full professional inspection, it will tell you if the car is roadworthy and is likely to need significant money spent on it in the near future.

Dents and scrapes – look closely for dents and scrapes in the bodywork. Any damage will be costly to put right, so haggle accordingly or walk away. If the panels don't line up properly, the car may have been crashed then poorly repaired.

Rust - check for rust that's been painted over, plus filler in the wheelarches. Once rust arrives, it's very hard to eradicate.

Interior and glass – check if the interior damaged, along with all the glass? Are there any stickers on the windows which may have been put on to cover an old registration number etched onto the glass?

Tyres – do the tyres have plenty of tread, with no uneven wear? If they're worn out altogether you'll need to budget for new tyres. If they've worn unevenly it could be poorly aligned tracking or something more serious – such as a twisted bodyshell because of poor accident repairs.

Mileage – do all the speedo digits line up properly? Are the old MoTs to hand and does the mileage recorded on these forms tie in with what's displayed? If the mileage readout is digital, it can be adjusted very easily, which is why checking the car's mileage throughout its service history is so important.

Chassis number – check if the chassis number (usually at the base of the windscreen on the passenger side) tie up with the one on the registration document? Also check the engine number, which is usually on the top of the engine, down the one side. And don't forget to make sure the registration number tallies with the one on the registration document.

Keysare all the keys available? There should be at least a spare. Lose the only key and you may have to have everything reprogrammed – which can cost hundreds of pounds.



These are some of the most common scams used by car sellers to con you out of your money.


Clocking – low-mileage cars are worth more than high-mileage ones. Many modern vehicles have digital odometer which are easier to clock. However, traditional analogue odometers have to be removed for the mileage to be wound back, so if the car has one of these, look for evidence that the dashboard has been tampered with. Damaged screw heads is one way of looking, or scratches in the paint around the screws.

Whatever type of odometer is fitted, check that the wear and tear on the car fits in with the stated mileage. If the pedal rubbers and steering wheel are worn smooth, the car isn't a low-mileage one. Ask for the car's service history and previous MoTs; they'll all have the mileage on, so make sure it goes up steadily and doesn't suddenly drop.

Ringing – When you buy a car you're reliant on its identity being genuine. However, it's possible for a car to be stolen, then given the identity of a written off car. You can guard against buying a ringer by inspecting the registration document closely and ensuring that the chassis and engine numbers on it match those on the car you're viewing. Make sure you're looking at the car on the seller's drive – at the address on the registration document. If you do buy a ringer, don't try to sell it on as you'll be liable to prosecution. Tell the police and in the case of a purchase from a dealer, also tell Trading Standards.

Cloning – another scam is the theft of a vehicle's identity called cloning. Cloning works by thieves stealing a car and giving it the identity of a legitimate vehicle. Although the car you're looking at is stolen, you don't know its real identity because you're checking the identity of a different vehicle.

The best way of ensuring you're not caught out is to:

  • Ensure the car's chassis number matches the one on the registration document.
  • Always pay by bankers draft rather than cash.
  • Inspect the car at a privately owned residential address, and make sure the seller isn't just using the drive of a house whose owners are away. Also ensure that this is the address shown on the registration document.
  • Get a land line number for the seller – never rely entirely on a mobile number.

Cut & shut – if you're not careful, you could end up buying a cut and shut. Such vehicles are the result of two written off cars being used to create one apparently good vehicle. The cars are literally cut up then welded together to create a car that looks straight. You need to look closely along the top of the windscreen as well as underneath the seats. It won't take much to see the join from underneath, unless copious quantities of underseal have been plastered everywhere. Also look out for badly mismatched paint as well as overspray on the glass and trim; these suggest the car has been repainted at some point. Mismatched trim inside the car is another giveaway.



It can be worth calling in the professionals; a qualified engineer with all the right tools and test equipment will give a written report on how good a car is. Such checks aren't cheap as they're usually over £100, but you could end up saving a lot more than that if you're considering buying what turns out to be a liability.

You can choose between the standard inspection which looks at 155 items, or the 206-point comprehensive inspection. If you do call in the experts but then have a major problem, you should be able to claim against the company that did the inspection and there should be some form of financial redress available.

A cheap alternative which looks at all the key areas is an MoT for relatively little money to establish if there are any serious faults with the vehicle.



You should never buy any car without taking it for a test drive first, for which you'll need to be insured. If you're comprehensively insured on your own car you'll probably have third party cover on anything you test drive, as long as it's already insured by the vendor – but you'll need to check first. Once you've ensured you have insurance cover, launch into the test drive.

Comfort – before you start the engine, make sure you can get comfortable and that you're happy with the all-round visibility. You'll have to live with this car every day, so make sure you can do so.

Start the car from cold – start the car from cold, let it warm up and ensure the cooling fan cuts in before taking it for a decent run.

Key checks when driving – on the drive, go through all the gears as well as the major controls, brakes, steering and suspension.

  • Gears – does the car jump out of gear or does the clutch slip?
  • Electrics – ensure all the electrics work – try everything.
  • Exhaust – is the exhaust chucking out soot? If so, the engine may have had it.
  • Interior – check all of the buttons for all of the equipment, including the air conditioning if fitted.



Buying privately – private sellers are required by law to describe the vehicle honestly and accurately. However, that's the only requirement as the car only has to be 'as described' and you have no redress. Getting your money back from a private seller or sorting a problem will be difficult, so check the car thoroughly before buying.

Use Car Trust as you will make the payment in our Account Holding Account and will only be transferred once the car has been handed over to you. You will have to be satisfied with the condition of the vehicle, check list of documents from the seller and sign the receipt and the checklist prior to taking over the car.

Make sure you have everything you need, including all the keys, the right tool to undo any locking wheel nuts and any fobs to activate any security systems.



Worried the warranty you're getting isn't very good? Then buy your own! There's a bunch of companies out there that'll sell you a warranty on your car, even if you've owned it for a while. You will get free 2 weeks warranty when purchase vehicle via Car Trust (exemption and limits apply, please see Car Trust Terms & Conditions for full detail) who has partnered with UK’s the biggest and the best warranty provider, Warranty Direct.

When you're shopping for an aftermarket warranty, also look at whether you can claim for a hire car or overnight accommodation in the event of your own vehicle breaking down. Finally, check if wear and tear is covered, if there's a maximum labour rate at any garage that's called in to put things right and also if the policy is transferable if you change your car.


Once you've bought your car you'll need to make sure you're properly insured before you drive it away. There's a huge number of things to consider when buying insurance; the key thing is to shop around to make sure you get the best possible deal.

You will get free 1 week warranty when purchase vehicle via Car Trust who has partnered with UK’s one of the biggest and the best insurance provider, Warranty Direct.

While purchase extended insurance among other things you want to consider following;

  • Excess – how much will you have to contribute in the event of you making a claim.
  • Breakdown cover – is it included, how comprehensive is it and are you covered if you take your car to mainland Europe?
  • Cover on other cars – if you're taking out comprehensive cover on your own car, will you automatically be covered to drive other vehicles, albeit on a third-party only basis?
  • Legal cover – will any legal advice or fees be covered, in the event of you incurring any uninsured losses?
  • Courtesy car – in the event of your car being out of action, will your insurer provide you with alternative transport while it's being fixed?



Protect yourself further with a signed contract between you and the seller. The contract is self-explanatory and both parties have to sign it. Suffice to say that if a vendor isn't prepared to sign it before they sell you their car, they clearly don't have much faith in it – so why should you?