Are you looking to buy a used car? Well, if the latest figures from RAC Vehicle History Checks are anything to go by, you could be in for a nasty surprise, as more than half (52%) of second-hand vehicles have a hidden history.
The most common cause of a hidden history is a change of number plate, with over one in four (27%) vehicles checked having had their plates changed.
And while this change could be for simple reasons like the previous owner using personalised plates, it could also be a warning sign the owner is trying to hide the car’s true identity.
The analysis looks at over 32,000 separate vehicle checks taken on the motoring organisation’s website, where prospective owners can put in details to find out a car’s history.
After changed plates, the second most common hidden history is a car still being “paid off” by a previous owner (17.9%), meaning it legally can’t be sold on despite being put up for sale.
Around 14.2% of checked cars were found to be insurance write-offs, while 1.9% of cars were either imports or exports that need specific documents to be legally sold on.
Worryingly 0.3% of cars checked on the RAC website were either listed as stolen or had been registered as scrapped.
RAC Motoring Services spokesperson Francesca Mann said the findings would likely alarm drivers, but they reinforce the need for motorists to do their homework before buying a car.
“Drivers that do their homework on vehicles put themselves in a much stronger position to negotiate on price, or simply walk away from the sale if they feel they are taking too great a risk.
“This is particularly relevant this time of year, as the arrival of 19-plate vehicles sees a rise in drivers seeking a good deal on used cars.”
She added: “We recommend every buyer insists on a comprehensive history check for any car they are looking to buy. Any concerns should be raised directly with the seller before parting with any money.”
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