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Buying & selling used vehicle advice

By Jane de Garston Battle Town Council

Tuesday, 31 August 2021


Battle Town Council Contributor


There have always been risks associated with buying or selling a vehicle online. But recent increases in used car prices, limited availability of some models and restrictions to travel and accompanied test drives have created additional risks, giving fraudsters new excuses to deceive both buyers and sellers.

How can you tell what ads, vehicles, buyers and sellers are genuine?

Safe buying

Paying a deposit
If a deposit is requested or agreed, don’t pay more than you are willing to lose and confirm with the seller that they will refund the deposit if you don’t purchase the vehicle. Be wary of requests for up-front transportation fees, it could be a scam.

Always view the vehicle before paying the full amount
Try to ascertain that the vehicle actually exists.

Check that the price of the vehicle is in line with the market value
If the price, condition, specification or mileage of the vehicle seems too good to be true, that could indeed be the case.

Take the vehicle for a test drive
Thoroughly inspect any vehicle you are looking to purchase, and take it for a test drive. Also, consider an inspection by the AA,RAC or other reputable organisation offering the service.

Carry out a vehicle history check and inspection
This will tell you if the vehicle is recorded as stolen, written off, scrapped, or has outstanding finance.Check the service history and ask to see historic MOT certificates to check that the milometer hasn’t been adjusted.

Making payment
Never send money for a vehicle you haven’t seen. Don’t carry large amounts of cash. Consider paying by bank transfer or credit card (if the seller offers the facility).

Safe Selling

Be prepared
Have all the relevant paperwork together, such as the V5C, service history and MOT certificate, for a potential buyer to review.

Beware of scammers
Always meet the buyer. Request their contact details and proof of identity – a driving licence is ideal. This should give you further reassurances, and a legitimate buyer should be happy to provide this information.

Test drive advice
Make sure you ask the buyer to bring their driving licence and proof of insurance if they want to test drive the vehicle. Check their level of insurance to test drive.

Never allow a buyer to test drive the vehicle alone
Never leave a potential buyer alone with the vehicle, nor give them the keys.

Stay on home ground
Always arrange to meet a buyer at your home; never meet at the roadside or at their premises.

Taking payment
Never release the vehicle until you have confirmation of cleared funds. If you accept a cheque or banker’s draft for payment, be aware it can take days for funds to clear.

Get Safe Online
Get Safe Online is the UK’s leading source of information and advice on online safety and security, for the public and small businesses. It is a not-for-profit, public/private sector partnership backed by law enforcement agencies and leading organisations in internet security, banking and retail.

For more information and expert, easy-to-follow, impartial advice on safeguarding yourself, your family, finances, devices and workplace, visit

Get Safe Online is a member of VSTAG, the Vehicle Safe Trading Advisory Group, which helps protect both buyers and sellers of pre-owned vehicles from fraud during the online transaction process.

Forged from a strong partnership of the UK’s leading online vehicle advertising media, police and other law enforcement agencies, VSTAG members share information about known and suspected fraudulent advertisements – working together to reduce online vehicle crime.

Contact Information

Carol Harris

Find Battle Town Council

The Almonry, High Street, Battle, East Sussex, TN33 0EA