The Consumer Lawyer

Buying a used car – do you really know its origins?

I have written extensively about the pitfalls of buying a used vehicle and thought I had highlighted all potential issues which could arise. However, I have come across another issue which you need to look out for when purchasing a used vehicle and this issue also highlights a major flaw with DVLA.

Robert from Kettering purchased a Toyota Rav4 for £11,490 from a private seller. The advert stated that the vehicle was ‘first registered’ in 2013 and showed the number plate as a ‘63’ plate, which indeed signifies the year of manufacture as 2013. Before making the purchase Robert carried out an HPI check which came back clear, and also recorded that the vehicle had a 63 year plate.

Three months after purchasing the vehicle, Robert took it in for a service. He then received a shocking phone call from the dealership who informed him that the vehicle was in fact a 2011 model. Robert naturally could not understand this as the V5 issued by DVLA (a Government department), stated that the vehicle was registered in 2013.

So what happened? It transpired that the car was indeed a 2011 model and that it had first been registered in Japan. It was then imported into the UK and the buyer at the time applied to DVLA to register the vehicle in the UK. That same buyer informed DVLA that the year of manufacture was 2013; hence why the vehicle was designated with a 2013 number plate.

This story highlights two major issues with DVLA. Firstly, the ‘date of first registration’ as shown on a V5 is highly misleading. This therefore means the date when the vehicle was first registered with DVLA – so why does it not say ‘Date of first registration in the UK’? Secondly, DVLA carry out no due diligence as to the provenance of a vehicle being registered with them, instead they simply accept everything they are told by the person or entity registering the vehicle. This is absurd, given the great reliance that dealerships and individuals place on V5 documentation. It is also surprising given the fact that there are international databases that show if a vehicle has a history in another country.

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