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How can I check the history of a used estate car from a dealer with no premises?

For my dog walking business, I'm going to ring up and hopefully see a 2003 Ford Focus 1.8 TDi CL 5dr diesel estate 89,000 miles, tomorrow. 12 months MOT, no mention of tax so assume there isn't any. He's asking £1295 which seems reasonable if it's a genuine car. He's a trade seller but doesn't appear to have premises. What's the most economical way for me to check for stolen/HPi/insurance write-off/mileage? I could ask for MOT number to check old MOTs on-line for mileage on VOSA website. If I did buy is it safe to give cash if he doesn't have premises, and is there anything I should be wary of?

Asked on 23 February 2011 by SS, via email

Answered by Honest John
There is no economical way to do an HPI check. The only guaranteed check is www.hpicheck.co.uk. Get a cheap check and it's not guaranteed, so it's worthless. Mileage checks are not certain anyway because they go from MoT records so don’t record the fact that the car has been running unhooked for 30,000 miles between each MoT. A trader seller with no premises is the worst sort of dealer because you have no comeback. If you only did what I originally recommended you to do and went to a police sale at West Oxfordshire Motor Auctions you'd have an ex-police dog van by now, ideally kitted out for your business. www.woma.co.uk
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