1. Is the vehicle reported stolen?
Vehicles taken without the owner's consent are listed on the Police National Computer. Getting a data check will find out if the vehicle has been listed as stolen - and potentially save you thousands.
2. Outstanding finance
If a vehicle has outstanding finance it's legally still owned by the finance company. But it's not necessarily bad news - you can still come to an agreement with the finance company, and end up owning the vehicle.
There are five different categories as to how badly a vehicle has been written off. A vehicle check will tell you if the vehicle has been written off, and into which category it falls.
A data check will unearth any potentially dodgy goings on with vehicles which have been sent for scrap, but have somehow returned to market. Another money saver.
5. Mileage anomalies
If the vehicle has had its mileage altered, a vehicle check will show up the discrepancy immediately. If the information is available, a vehicle check will reveal if the mileage has been wound back or if it is older than advertised.
Every make and model of vehicle has a market value. The data check will provide you with this, and show you if you're getting a good deal or are about to be ripped off.
7. Check the vehicle identification number
The vehicle identification number (VIN) - otherwise known as the chassis number - should match the one on the vehicle registration certificate (V5C) and the markings elsewhere on the vehicle (commonly on the windscreen or on the floor by the driver's seat). A data check will tell you what the correct VIN should be.
8. See the full spec
Getting a data check will allow you to see the full spec (make, model, date of first registration, engine number, transmission etc) of the vehicle you're about to buy. If there are any major differences between the spec and what has been advertised - walk away from the deal.
9. Check the number of previous owners
The data check will also tell you how many previous owners the vehicle has had. If the seller is advertising 'one previous owner' and the data check tells you there have been more, it should set the alarm bells ringing.
10. Get insured
Sometimes insurance companies are reluctant to insure vehicles that have somehow returned to market.
This article was written by Alex Eckford for www.autotrader.co.uk
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