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We look at why a car history check is essential for everyone buying a used car

These days there aren't too many of us who can afford to buy a brand new car, which means that the used car market is becoming an ever increasingly popular approach for most people. However buying used comes with its own pitfalls, particularly if you're going to be buying privately as opposed to from an authorised dealer.

Before committing to buying any used car, it is absolutely essential that you carry out a thorough car history check. If you're not familiar with what these checks entail, then you needn't worry because we're going to take a look at all the key points today.

The first thing you need to find out is whether or not the car has outstanding finance owed on it. If this is the case, the finance company are the ones who still legally own the car. This means that you will need to come to an agreement with that company in order to take ownership of the vehicle.

Next, it's absolutely essential that you check if the car is stolen or not. This process is known as a data check, and we recommend it for all private used car purchases to ensure that you aren't driving around in stolen property.

It is also a good idea to find out how many previous owners the car has had. Many cars are advertised as having just one or two previous owners, but you should never take these claims on face value. Knowing how many owners the car has had can often indicate how reliable you can expect your purchase to be.

The next few things are very important, but you're going to need the help of a mechanic in order to determine them. You'll need to find out if the car has ever been recorded as being written off, or scrapped. Next, you should check if the car's mileage has been altered in any way. There are some sellers who will fiddle the clock to make the car appear to have been used far less than it actually has. This is not only illegal, but can fool people into buying a car that doesn't have long left in the tank, as it were.

Finally, make sure that the car matches the advertised specifications exactly. If it doesn't, then alarm bells should be ringing and you should walk away from the deal. Never buy a car unless you are completely satisfied that all these car history check criteria have been met.

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