Buy a car safelyBuying a vehicle is safe and easy, as long as you follow these quick and simple steps.

1. Payment

Never send money abroad – it’s often the preferred method of a fraudulent seller acquiring money illegally. Pay for the vehicle when you physically collect it from the seller.

2. Price

Always check the vehicle’s market value by getting a valuation or comparing the price with other similar models advertised on Auto Trader. If it’s being offered at a much cheaper price, ask yourself why. If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

How Auto Trader can help:
Value a car
Value a bike
Value a van

3. Visit the seller

It’s really important you physically check the vehicle and see the documentation. Never buy a vehicle without seeing or driving it first, preferably in daylight when it’s easier to spot damage.
• View the vehicle at the seller’s home and check the address is the same as the one listed on the registration document (V5C), also known as the logbook
• Check the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is the same as that on the V5C. This number is commonly found on the chassis, on the windscreen or on the floor by the driver’s seat

4. Vehicle history check

If you only do one thing make sure you carry out a car history check. It will tell you whether the car is:
• Recorded as stolen
• Written-off
• Scrapped
• Subject to outstanding finance

It can also confirm registration details, the number of owners and the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) allowing you to confirm these with the seller and the vehicle’s paperwork.

How Auto Trader can help:
Check a car’s history
Check a bike’s history

Check a van’s history

Top tip: it’s a good idea to carry out a car, bike or van history check whilst you’re viewing the vehicle, that way you have access to all the information you need to check.

5. Paperwork

You must see the original V5C document, service history and MOT certificates before handing over any money. Ensure all documents are the originals and not photocopies.
• Examine the authenticity of the V5C by holding it up to the light where you’ll see a DVL watermark
• Ensure the seller is the recorded keeper – if not, they may not be legally entitled to sell the vehicle
• Check the serial number at the top right hand corner of the V5C and contact the police immediately if the number falls in the following range – it could be a stolen document: BG8229501 to BG9999030, and BI2305501 to BI2800000.
• If the car has a personalised number plate, check the corresponding V750 certificate serial number and contact the police immediately if the number falls between 5930101 to 5931000 – it could be a stolen document.

For more information visit our Safety and Security centre or contact Auto Trader by emailing or calling 0330 303 9001.