Beware used bargains says car check firm

Motorists have been warned to watch out for bangers that look like bargains as the March plate-change approaches.

Thousands of motorists are expected to trade in their vehicles to buy the latest 13-plate models at the beginning of March, flooding the market with used cars.

Experts at vehicle information company HPI are warning motorists looking for a used-car bargain to set a realistic budget and stick to it, warning that one in three used cars has a hidden history.

A real steal might not be what it first appears.

Consumer services manager at HPI, Nicola Johnson, says: "You could face some very real bad luck if you buy a banger masquerading as a bargain. Take a few simple precautions and avoid being conned out of your hard-earned cash by unscrupulous sellers out to make a fast profit.

"Always view vehicles in daylight, at the seller's address, so you can match it with the address on the V5 registration document," recommends Johnson.

"Ideally, take a friend for security and to act as another pair of eyes and get a mechanical inspection done."

Other top tips from HPI include checking the car's documents all match and looking out for excessive interior wear, which could indicate false mileage.

The firm also says non-original keys could be a sign a car might have been stolen.

Nicola Johnson adds: "Avoid handing over any money until you've checked the car's history. Still suspicious? Just walk away. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is."

Read Mike Brewer's top tips on buying a used car here