RAC Cars News


Unchecked used cars represent £6 billion gamble for British motorists

By raccars Published

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A new RAC report reveals the huge risks being taken by motorists who buy used cars without checking the vehicle’s history.

RAC reveals used car buyer complacency

Every year used car buyers across the UK are spending a combined £6.1 billion on second hand vehicles without checking the history of the vehicle to determine whether there are any issues that the seller has not highlighted. This is according to a new RAC report which shows the extent to which motorists are gambling on used car sales.

Sourcing data from the RAC Car Passport service, the report makes it is easy to see why the 2.5 million used cars which are purchased without any kind of history check pose a serious potential problem for drivers.

23 per cent of checks carried out via the Car Passport service reveal significant problems in a vehicle’s past. The report also breaks down the different types of issues that can be present in the history of a used car, many of which will be overlooked completely by buyers who fail to carry out a thorough check.

Used car history issues uncovered

One of the most common problems inherent in used cars is that of outstanding finance. This is found in a staggering 12.59 per cent of Car Passport checks, meaning that around 1 in 8 second hand vehicles being sold privately in the UK are affected.

Approximately 1 in 10 used cars have been written off under an insurance claim but are nonetheless being sold on, while 1 in 100 have had their original colour changed by a previous owner prior to resale. The odds of encountering a car which has been scrapped in the past only to reappear on the used market are 1 in 1000, while encountering a car which has been stolen is less likely, at 1 in 2000.

However, the data clearly illustrates that with millions of used cars sold annually, there will be thousands and thousands of buyers who commit to purchasing a vehicle with a questionable history that could present very real problems in the future.

Having a change of heart

The statistics from the Car Passport service show that buyers who opt for a history check on a used car can use this information to adjust their decisions appropriately and to enter into a purchase knowing exactly what they are dealing with. In fact a third said that following a history check, they had decided walk away from the purchase rather than to take the financial risk.

The good news is that this means that the majority of motorists who carry out a quick online check on a used car are still confident enough in its background to go through with the purchase transaction. And for sellers there is a significant incentive in using the RAC Car Passport service, because this can instil confidence in potential buyers, with 48 per cent of those who carry out satisfactory checks deciding to complete a deal within the ensuing 48 hour period.

Used car history checks give buyers a full picture as to what to expect when taking ownership of a new vehicle. A check will reveal any outstanding issues on the one hand while on the other giving motorists the confidence to enter into what is, after all, the second largest financial commitment for most of us behind only the purchase of our homes.

RAC Car Passport spokesperson Robert Diamond said that checking a used car’s history not only reduces the stress of buying a vehicle, but it also allows motorists to save thousands of pounds by avoiding cars with questionable pasts.

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