How to buy a car

There are some great used cars in the UK! The current value of the British pound makes vehicle prices particularly attractive. The buyer of a used vehicle in the United Kingdom has much clearer information than in France about the condition of the car.

The particularities of the English used vehicle market

The main peculiarity of the English second-hand market is that the buyer has many tools to find out about the condition of the vehicle.

A unique platform to check the history of English vehicles
In the UK, buyers and sellers of used vehicles benefit from a centralized car history system. Insist with your salesman for the history of his vehicle, some might take advantage of the fact that you are a foreigner to sell you a wreck.

How to buy a car in United Kingdom

This platform is called “HPI Car Check” and is available at:

Similar to the Histovec platform in France, HPI Car Check delivers the following information:

  1. A rating of the car according to its condition and how it was sold
  2. A summary of the administrative situation of the vehicle (owners, accidents, oppositions)
  3. The history of the condition of the vehicle during technical inspections
How to buy a car

Accident vehicles are listed

By checking the history of your future vehicle, you will find its HPI category. When a vehicle suffers an accident, it is entered in this file. It is therefore necessary to consult it to be sure not to buy a make-up wreck.

Category AĀ – Scrap only, parts are not salvageable, vehicle not permitted on the road and should be crushed.
Category BĀ – Extensive damage, beyond repair. Parts are salvageable, vehicle not permitted on the road and should be scrapped.
Category CĀ – Vehicle is damaged but repairable, cost of repair exceeds the pre-accident value of the vehicle.
Category DĀ – Vehicle is damaged but repairable.
Category SĀ – Structurally damaged but repairable, its important that these vehicles are repaired professionally.
Category NĀ – Repairable non-structural damage.

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Obviously, it is recommended to avoid purchasing cars that are the subject of a report in this file. A category A or B vehicle does not have the right to be offered for sale.

If you buy a vehicle that has been classified in category C, pay attention to the various repairs, appraisals and certifications. Such a vehicle has suffered significant damage and had to be repaired to be able to be offered for sale.

Finally, category D means that the vehicle has been involved in an accident but that the damage is not significant. These vehicles may still have some dents on the body, for example.

Consult the history of technical inspections

Roadworthiness tests in the UK are subject to a history called “MOT”. This information is available from the HPI Car Check. They make it possible to see the failures observed during the technical control and their possible repairs.

The specificities of the English with their cars

While English cars are generally well maintained, they are often subject to rust. Indeed, the air in Britain is relatively saline since it is an island, and in winter the roads are relatively salty to combat the snow. Added to this is the fact that the English often leave their cars outside.

how to buy a car in uk

The British tend to take care of their vehicle, but you shouldn’t really trust the qualifiers put forward on the ads: “rust free”, “new tires”, “good condition” ā€¦ Indeed, when you discover the vehicle in real life, it happens that this qualifier is little in agreement with the real state of the vehicle.

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Prepare the transaction and administrative procedures

One of the advantages of buying a vehicle in England versus another foreign country is that the procedures are really simplified. Everything is done from the gray card of the English vehicle.

Complete the English registration card

Make sure the vendor provides V5, the equivalent of our vehicle registration document. This A4 document consisting of several sheets is also used to certify the sale of the vehicle.

Indeed, the V5 has a “New Keeper” insert which will then have to be filled in with your contact details.

Then, the seller must also fill in the “permanent export” area. Your UK seller will keep this part of the document to report the sale.

how to buy a car in uk

Classifieds sites for finding a used car in the UK


Present in several Anglo-Saxon countries such as Australia, Gumtree is a catch-all site a bit like the French site leboncoin. There are housing, job offers, objects, including vehicles.

The eBay site is present in many countries including France. There are many second-hand products, auctions, new products.

To access the UK version, simply delete the “.fr” at the end of the address and replace it with “”. While vehicles are rarely found on the French eBay, the offer is much more interesting on the English version.

There are cars that can be bought immediately, but also vehicles at auction. There are very good deals to be made on this site.


The pistonhead site is one of the most famous for selling used cars. However, as it is widely known, the prices tend to be higher than those of other sites. In addition, there are also fewer ads there than on some other sites like autotrader. By cons, passing through Pistonhead, you will rarely be disappointed with the quality of the vehicle and there are quite rare cars.

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Widely used by the British, the site brings together many offers from individuals, but also professionals.

You should know that in England there are many small professional sellers whose concession consists of a prefabricated building accompanied by a parking lot where the vehicles are displayed.

This kind of garage may not give you confidence when you are a foreigner, but in reality, they are generally serious sellers and sometimes have a few rare gems.

When you are on the website, you will be asked for a postcode, so use the code CT16 1JA, which is Dover, where the entrance to the Channel Tunnel is.

Insure your English vehicle

Sometimes an insurer is not inclined to insure a vehicle with an English plate. Remember to do it in advance. Usually, insurers offer insurance for one month while you change your registration card. Some insurers offer a slightly longer time frame, as it is not always easy to make this change in just a month.

If you haven’t thought about doing this in advance, you can contact your insurance by phone from within the UK or buy insurance online.

How to lookup your VIN code

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By Vinceslav

Journalist, writer. I write articles and reviews on equipment such as cars, computers, games. Worked for 6 years in the auto and auto parts business. And all my life I have been engaged in computer technology.

2 thoughts on “How to buy a car in United Kingdom”
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