04 November 2013

As part of National Consumer Week (4 to 10 November) Northamptonshire County Council’s trading standards team is warning consumers about the pitfalls when buying a used car.

Why is this advice being issued?

Used cars top the list of issues complained about by Northamptonshire residents - in the last year 900 (14%) of all local complaints to the Citizens Advice consumer service have been regarding this issue.

A car is often one of the most expensive purchases a person makes and a vehicle is often essential for daily living.

Consumers are advised to ensure they carry out a few simple checks before they buy to avoid regretting it later.

Check it, don't regret it

  • Check MOT certificate – indicates if car is roadworthy
  • Check service history – shows if car has been maintained
  • Check V5 registration document – shows if car is stolen
  • Check if car is a write off – helps you know what you are buying
  • Check finance history – ensures car doesn’t have an outstanding hire purchase agreement
  • Test drive and walk around check – for signs the car isn’t what it seems (do this in good light conditions)
  • Get engineer’s check – shows condition of car and any hidden dangers
  • Check price value guide – indicates reasonable price to pay
  • Check car is not recalled – shows if car was recalled for safety reasons by manufacturer

Many of these checks can be done by the consumer, or there are companies that offer data checks which include several of the checks listed above.

Cabinet member for public protection, strategic infrastructure and economic growth, Councillor Andre Gonzalez de Savage said: “Used cars are the most complained about trading standards issue in Northamptonshire. Buying a used car is a significant purchase and fraught with difficulties but by carrying out a few checks consumers can help to protect themselves from getting caught out. Always get a person with proper technical know-how to assess the vehicle before buying as it may save you thousands of pounds in the future.”

For more information

For more detailed information and advice on how to make these checks, people can go to the advice guide on the Citizen's Advice Bureau website or visit their local Citizens Advice Bureau.