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March Plate Change: What You Need to Know

March Plate Change 2014

It’s that time of year again, the March plate change brings a renewed batch of used cars onto the market, ready for buyers to indulge in. However, as activity in the used car market grows, buyers still need to protect themselves as their ‘bargain’ set of wheels may have a hidden history.

New registrations are released in March and September every year, this is when new models are revealed and the latest plates become available. Some car owners take this opportunity to trade up and many decide to sell their existing vehicles privately. If you’re buying from someone who’s decided to upgrade their wheels remember that outstanding finance is a very real concern that you will need to check before finalising any deal.
1 in 4 vehicles checked by HPI in 2013 were found to have outstanding finance owing and more than 30 per day had been reported as stolen with the police. Vehicles can be camouflaged to look attractive, yet this is the ideal time for scams such as the ‘Ghost-Car’. The HPI Check® will reveal the vehicle’s past and tell you if:

  • It has a mileage discrepancy
  • Has outstanding finance
  • It is currently recorded as stolen
  • Has previously been written off

This March plate change, don’t be fooled by glossy paintwork and nifty accessories. Used car buyers need to be aware of the risks and take steps to avoid buying a stolen, clocked or previously written off vehicle. Even though some older models may become cheaper in March, you could find yourself out of pocket if you don’t know the vehicles’ full history.
If you are currently in the market for a used car, take a look at our checklist.

HPI’s Car Buying Checklist:

  1. Set a budget and stick to it, including the costs for insurance, servicing and car tax.
  2. Have a list of questions to ask the seller and record the answers. Ask the seller to sign and date the document.
  3. Check the car’s registration document (V5) to validate ownership and the accuracy of the vehicle’s age and mileage.
  4. Check that the engine/chassis numbers match the V5 and HPI documentation.
  5. Test drive the car, but ensure that appropriate insurance is obtained.
  6. Don’t rely on the MOT as evidence of a car’s condition.
  7. Check for oil leaks, welds, untidy seams or paintwork. Are the electrics working?
  8. Check for rust and paint bubbles on sills, wheel arches and doors.
  9. Does the mileage match the age of the car? A worn interior may indicate a clocked car.
  10. Never pay with cash – use the banking system or walk away.
  11. What’s the market value? If the price tag is less than 70% of the market price, be wary.
  12. Conduct an HPI Check, this can reveal the things the eye alone cannot tell you.

Happy driving!