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Why your next car needs a provenance check

BBC’s Rip-Off Britain recently documented a shocking case where an outstanding vehicle loan, taken out by a previous owner, had caused debt collectors to visit the vehicle’s current owner and seize it during the night.

Single mother Jo Day, had received her Nissan Micra as a birthday present last year from her parents. Knowing little about cars, Jo asked her mechanic to check it over – and whilst it appeared mechanically sound, a provenance check wasn’t carried out which could have prevented what happened later.

A few months on when Jo was retaxing the car, she realised that she didn’t have the entire V5 document, also known as the log book. Jo immediately contacted the DVLA to check that the car had been transferred into her name, and asked them whether the log book had been lost in the post because she hadn’t received it. The DVLA confirmed that the car had never been registered in her name and that they had no record of her ownership. It later became apparent that the reason why Jo didn’t have the remainder of the log book was because the seller hadn’t sent it to the DVLA.

Digging deeper, Jo established that the previous owner hadn’t had it either which was why it was never sent off. By submitting the part that she did have, this meant that Jo was then traceable as the car’s keeper. The missing certificate had been used by one of the previous owners to take out a ‘log-book loan’, which effectively means that it was used to secure a loan in order to purchase the car.

The DVLA later confirmed that various other owners had purchased the car before Jo’s parents had, but after the loan was taken out the lender had been unable to track the car down. With Jo now documented as the registered keeper, debt collectors were contacted and the car was seized in the middle of the night. Jo was told that the only way to get it back was to pay off the £500 loan, which she did by borrowing the money from a family member.

It is estimated that up to a quarter of all used cars sold may have an outstanding finance arrangement. We hope that this case raises awareness of why a provenance check needs to be carried out BEFORE you buy the vehicle as without one, it may be too late before you realise that the seller wasn’t actually the owner.

A provenance check is the only way to rule out a hidden past but please remember that if anything is flagged as unusual, DON’T BUY THE VEHICLE no matter how good a deal it seems. As part of the ‘Safe and Sound’ scheme, your dealership will carry out a full provenance check on the vehicle, which will make sure that it has no outstanding finance arrangements or mileage problems, hasn’t been stolen or written off previously, or has had identity issues by checking for stolen V5 documents, plate transfers, number plate and VIN/chassis number matches.

To find out more about the Significant Seven elements of ‘Safe and Sound’ speak to your dealership, or click here to find your nearest.

Registered office: The WMS Group Ltd,
Oxford House, Oxford Road, Thame, Oxon OX9 2AH
01844 293 810