It's only natural that sellers will be looking to get as much as possible for their car, so do your homework and find the true value first. Try somewhere like Glass's Car Guide or Parkers.
If you're buying the car, you and the seller will need to complete the relevant section of the V5C document. You then keep the green tear-off section and the seller sends the other part to the DVLA. Visit the DVLA to find out more.
Always make sure there's no finance outstanding on the car. If there is, and the buyer doesn't settle up with the finance company beforehand, you could end up losing the car – with no come-back.
Don't forget, you'll need insurance in place before you drive the car away – or even take it for a test drive. It might pay to check early on how much the monthly premium will be too. Generally, more affordable, smaller, cars with modest engines and cheap parts have the lowest premiums.
If there is any time left on the road tax, be sure it's included in the sale. If it's being sold untaxed, you will need to have road tax in place before driving it away. Why not haggle with the seller to see if they will arrange the road tax for you?
If there is any warranty left on the car, remember to let the warranty company know about change of ownership. That way, if you need to claim on it, there shouldn't be a problem. Also check the warranty can be transferred with the car.
Log books, receipts, MoT certificates
As an absolute minimum, make sure you ask for the appropriate parts of the car's log book (or Registration Document) and any applicable MoT certificate. The full service history is useful too; you won't know when it's next due a service (which could affect the warranty if missed). The next owner will also ask for it if you come to sell the car in the future. You can always ask for any old MoT certificate(s) - plus any garage receipts and other paperwork which is always handy.
Nobody relishes the idea of haggling, but an awkward 10 minutes or so might just save you a few quid. Don't be afraid to make a reasonable offer – and don't give up too easily. Equally though, if things aren't working out, be prepared to call it a day. If you regret it later, you can always go back with a counter offer.
Buying a used car from a trader is not different to buying other goods - the product (i.e. the car) must be:
- Of satisfactory quality
- Fit for purpose
- As described
If not, then it's likely to be legally faulty and you should get in touch with the seller as soon as possible. It's their responsibility to repair it, replace it - or even give you a full refund.