Is that car stolen?

Better to be safe than sorry. How you can avoid buying a stolen car

Used car history checks identify nearly 30 stolen vehicles a day data

Used car history checks identify nearly 30 stolen vehicles a day

While you might think you could spot a stolen car easily the reality is that stolen cars can often appear perfectly legitimate.

Used car history checks identify nearly 30 stolen vehicles a day, and if you do end up buying one you could end up losing both the car and money used to pay for it if it is recovered by the police.

Meet the seller at their home rather than a pub car park or lay-by, and don't let them come to you. Check the information on the V5C registration document to make sure that the seller is the registered keeper. If there's no V5C then walk away.

Alarm bells should also be ringing if a vehicle appears considerably cheaper than the going rate for similar vehicles of the same age, condition and mileage. Shop around to get a feel for what a realistic price might be.

Check that all the VIN/chassis numbers on the vehicle match each other and have not been tampered with too.

Car data check

An AA Car Data Check will reveal whether the vehicle is currently recorded by the Police as stolen. The check also tells buyers whether their potential purchase has been declared a total loss by an insurance company, could have been clocked or is on outstanding finance, offering valuable peace of mind before they buy.

A Car Data Check will confirm the registration plate is registered to the VIN/chassis number (as recorded by the DVLA).

Buy a used car from a name you can trust

Buy a used car

Buying advice

  • Go to the seller’s address: check that they are the registered keeper of the vehicle, make sure their address matches the vehicle’s V5C document and never meet in a car park or other location
  • Check all documents match: The V5C details should match the MOT documents and service history. An incomplete or inconsistent service history should put you on your guard.
  • Look for document problems: check the V5C document issue date and serial number as stolen documents are in circulation. A new Red V5C was introduced in August 2010 and by October 2012 there should be no old blue V5Cs in use.
  • If it looks too good to be true, walk away: if it seems to be the bargain of the century, it’s probably a dodgy vehicle being dressed up with a tempting price tag. Use your head, not your heart and walk away.
  • Get an AA Car Data Check: the best way to be sure your purchase is the real deal

'Virtual car' scams and 'paper cars'

More non-existent car than stolen car but 'virtual vehicle scams' or 'paper cars' cost consumers millions every year.

In theory a shipping company will transfer funds to the vehicle seller when you have taken delivery of a vehicle from abroad and confirmed that you're happy with it. In practice, the funds may be transferred but the vehicle never arrives.

Don't hand over money to to someone you don't know for a vehicle you've not seen.

(10 November 2011)