Ask the seller for the registration number, make and model and MOT test number.
Check that the details you’ve been given match the information held by DVLA.
Check if the vehicle has been recalled because of a serious safety issue.
Ask to see the V5C vehicle registration certificate (‘log book’). Make sure it has a ‘DVL’ watermark, and the serial number is not between BG8229501 to BG9999030, or BI2305501 to BI2800000. If it is, the V5C might be stolen - call the police as soon as it’s safe to.
Check the vehicle identification number and engine number. Make sure these match the details on the log book.
Rain on paintwork can hide a multitude of sins, as will streetlamps or torchlight, so try and look at cars in good weather, and definitely inspect them in daylight. Take your time to look over every panel, and all the trim surfaces inside.
It’s vital to be assured that the car drives and handles correctly, and performs as you would expect. Does the car start easily? Are there any unusual sounds from the engine or brakes? Does the steering pull to one side? Is there any telltale smoke coming from the exhaust?
When you’ve agreed a price and are going to buy a car, make sure terms are agreed in writing, with a receipt that both parties sign and keep a copy of. It should show vehicle details, price, and terms of sale and both the seller’s and buyer’s name and address.