Spotting a secondhand as an import? - devdeep
I am planning to buy a secondhand BMW/Merc. I have found that a car about 2 years old has 2 or 3 owners with various reasons from the dealers. Can these be imports? How can you tell please?
Spotting a secondhand as an import? - DavidHM
They could well be imports, but it's by no means certain. An HPI check will pick that up, but it's about £40. It's worth doing once you've decided that it's the car you want, presuming it passes, but not before.

With Mercedes and BMW it's quite difficult to spot an import. If a car is not to UK spec in some way, e.g., badged difficulty, or in the case of a Focus has 4 electric windows but no a/c, then it might be possible to tell. BMWs and Mercedes that have been imported are usually very well equipped though.

If a car has two owners and the first is an independent dealer, then it's very likely that it's an import. A V5 only shows the last previous owner though, so you won't be able to tell an import that way if it's been sold on at least once before.

Of course, if a car is very cheap, out of UK warranty (i.e., over 3 years or 60k) and especially if you plan on keeping the car a long time, it's not really a problem where it's come from. It would be worth contacting the manufacturer though, to make sure that any recall work has been done.

The only reason why you should worry if a car is an import or not, assuming it's otherwise straight and has FSH, is that the dealer will very likely have used that as a bargaining chip to get the cost down. Some of this will be reflected in a lower screen price, but he may well do you a better deal once you find out that it is one, as he'll have the margin to do that.

Functionally, a personally imported, used 3 year old car with UK spec is absolutely identical in terms of the driving and ownership experiences to a UK car, and I wouldn't let that put me off in any way as long as the rest of the deal stood up well.
Spotting a secondhand as an import? - keithb
Good comments from David but a V5 would not tell you it's an import assuming it was imported when new. It will say 'new at first registration' whether an import or UK supplied. DVLA have no record that the car is a personal (parallel) import and, for the same reason, an HPI check will not help.

Thinking of my own BMW (bought in Holland), these are the only ways to tell it's an import :

1. PDI stamp in service book (but dealer could set up a new book, of course).

2. Is the car still under BMW warranty? But the 1 year warranty could have been extended with BMW UK for £815. (Not possible with Mercedes, I believe)

3. The dealer can look the car up on the BMW database.

It's certainly possible to import a car which does not have all the UK equipment. I saw a BMW at Trade Sales where a quick glance through the window showed that items were missing which are standard in the UK.
Spotting a secondhand as an import? - JamesH
It's not true of all BMW parallel imports, but many have the windscreen wipers the wrong way around - a giveaway sign.

James
Spotting a secondhand as an import? - 330d
Yeah, it's dead awkward when the wipers are inside the windscreen instead of outside. But seriously, with a 'properly' imported BMW the only giveaway is the PDI stamp.
Spotting a secondhand as an import? - Humpy
I'm not sure about the HPi check. When I bought my 156 I knew it was an import, the seller was quite open about it, but it did not show on the HPi check that I did on it before I bought it. I had receipts from a garage in Ireland, the manufacturing certificate etc.
 

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