It's got to be worth a check
WITH Shrove Tuesday fast approaching, vehicle information expert HPI warns used car buyers to make sure the only lemons they buy this February are the ones they squeeze over their pancakes.
With one in three vehicles checked by HPI having a hidden history, buyers need to ensure they build the fullest possible picture of a car's past to avoid buying a dodgy motor.
HPI highlights the dangers facing used car buyers and urges them to get a vehicle history check before parting with their cash.
Reputable dealers will have carried out an HPI check themselves, before they sell on a vehicle.
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"It's easy to be dazzled by a flashy exterior or in-car gadgets, when used car shopping, but they could be covering a multitude of sins," warns Nicola Johnson, Consumer Services Manager of HPI. "It is important for buyers to remain neutral and inspect a vehicle carefully, as a hidden history can be hiding just beneath the surface.
"Unscrupulous vendors often attach a bargain price to make unsuspecting buyers think they're getting the steal of the century. However, if the seller is prepared to 'lose' money on the vehicle, the buyer should be on their guard as to why that might be the case.
"The buyer may end up spending twice as much in repairs, if they buy a lemon. Worst of all, it could turn out to be stolen or on outstanding finance, which could see them lose the car and the money they paid for it when it's returned to the rightful owner. This makes it essential for consumers to understand the pitfalls of used car buying."
HPI highlights the top dangers used car buyers face:
Is that bargain still on finance?
Anyone who falls for a car that is still on finance could lose the vehicle when it is claimed back by the finance company who still owns it.
HPI says: Knowing about outstanding debt before you purchase the vehicle can give you the opportunity to settle the finance and get the debt removed before you proceed. The HPI Check confirms whether a vehicle is on outstanding finance, giving consumers peace of mind before they buy.
Is that a stolen car?
Every day hundreds of vehicles are stolen across the UK and criminal tricksters sell them on to innocent used car buyers. It's hard to spot a stolen car just by looking at it, but many buyers take the risk and part with their cash without checking. Unfortunately, anyone who buys a stolen vehicle is likely to lose both the vehicle and their money as it belongs to the owner.
HPI says: Watch out for clever cons who resort to 'cloning' as a way to disguise the identity of a stolen car with that of a legitimate one, using fake documentation. As well as informing the purchaser if a vehicle has been recorded as stolen by the Police, the HPI Check is the only history check that comes with clone cover as part of its guarantee*, and includes a stolen V5C document check as standard.
What's beneath the shiny paintwork?
Another hoax to be on the look-out for is an insurance 'total loss', otherwise known as a write-off, disguised as a perfectly normal vehicle. The car may look shiny and new, but the paintwork might be hiding a veritable Pandora's Box of damage and poor repair.
HPI says: Some of these damaged vehicles can be repaired safely and returned to the road, but others are only fit for scrap and too dangerous to be on the road. The HPI Check not only identifies if a car has been written-off, but also which category of write-off, helping buyers make an informed decision about the purchase.
Is that car older than it looks?
Winding back the odometer on a car can add hundreds or even thousands of pounds to a vehicle's price tag, making it an easy way for criminals to make a fast profit. Unsuspecting buyers may pay for a vehicle that's had a lot more wear and tear than the mileage suggests.
HPI says: A clocked car can cost more in repairs than the buyer bargained for. The HPI Check will check a vehicle's mileage against the National Mileage Register, which contains over 150 million mileage records and will inform a buyer if there is a mileage discrepancy.
Nicola Johnson concludes, "It's understandable that used car buyers look at the price tag first and then take a vehicle on face value, but this can be a costly mistake. An HPI Check is the best way to protect you from becoming a victim of a dishonest used car seller. We urge used car buyers to use their head when shopping around. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Don't waste money on a lemon, get a vehicle check and bag a bonafide bargain."