RAC Cars News


The Smart Choice of Buying a Car Privately

By raccars Published

We all recognise the benefits of buying a used car privately – saving valuable pounds that we can use to cover the rising costs of car ownership (even if petrol prices are falling). In fact, nearly 3 Million people each year chose this route rather than buying from a more traditional (and usually more expensive) dealer.

But what about all the risks of buying that car from a stranger?

As The Motorist’s Champion, RAC is constantly looking for ways to make motoring safer, cheaper and more enjoyable – and that also applies to buying a car privately.

So here are our four tips for smart, safe buying of private cars for sale:

  1. Check it is legitimate – one service that dealers provide is checking that a car is legitimately available for sale and has no ‘black marks’ against its history – whether it has been written off; stolen; imported / exported; or as importantly whether it has outstanding finance against it (and is therefore owned by a finance company and not the person offering it to you). There is no way of ‘guessing’ this information – you must get an official history check that queries Government and other databases to find the true history of a car. At RAC we use our market-leading vehicle check, which for just £14.99 tells you everything you need to know – we also cover you for up to £30,000 of claim value if that history is incorrect

  2. Check the condition (properly) – everyone who has a friend or relative who is a ‘car expert’ – but relying on this person could cost you hundreds or even thousands of pounds in unexpected repair bills and resale value. At RAC, we prefer to use our team of professional vehicle inspectors who will carry out a professional on-site inspection of any vehicle from just £99

  3. Check the paperwork – there are two things you need to check about buying a car privately - the registered owner and the registered keeper. Registered keeper information is shown on a Government document called a V5C – check that the name of the current keeper is the person you are doing with. However don’t be fooled into thinking the keeper is always the legal owner – it could be owned by a finance company – so don’t forget to order your RAC Car Passport above

  4. Drive away – but think about getting a warranty first – congratulations on your new car! While cars have become increasingly reliable, we all know that things go wrong from time to time – that’s one of the reasons who over 8 Million people have Breakdown cover from RAC. However you may not have known that even if you buy a car privately you can still get warranty cover for the most important parts of your car – see …

Happy motoring! By following the simple steps above you can get great value from buying privately but with fewer risks.

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