Buying a used car the right way with

Buying a used car the right way with have been offering the best advice and protection for potential car buyers in Ireland through a range of information products which give the consumer the information they need to make an informed choice when considering the purchase of a used car. The Finest spoke to the team at Cartell to find out what are the most important things buyers need to consider prior to purchasing a used car.



Your Needs

Pick a vehicle which best suits your lifestyle for the duration of the ownership period. Consider the running cost of the vehicle made up of service costs, fuel economy, and insurance costs. Will you need additional space? Are you conscious of the environment?

Vehicle Documentation

Before test driving or even inspecting the vehicle, ask the vendor (seller) to show you the Vehicle Registration Certificate (VRC) if the vehicle is Irish. If the vehicle is an import from the UK ask to see the V5C. These documents are the ownership documents for the vehicle. It is imperative that the person selling the vehicle, must correspond to the name on the V5 or VRC and you must ask for proof of identity if buying privately.

A dealer should also have this document but the name would still be in the last owner as a dealer is not normally classed as an owner if they intend to sell the vehicle. The VRC has a 10 digit number on the top right hand corner of the first page. It should look like C061234567. For 2009 this would be C091234567 and so on. Take down these numbers and match them when getting your Cartell Car Check. Cartell has all of these numbers for each vehicle and if they do not match with Cartell the document could be forged and the vehicle may be stolen or a clone/ringer. A clone or ringer is a vehicle which is made to look like another vehicle and is generally a stolen vehicle using the identity of a clean vehicle without the knowledge of the owner of the clean vehicle.


Vehicle Specification

The vehicle you choose will be to a certain specification. The engine size, fuel type, date of registration and colour will be detailed on the VRC. You should check this against the vehicle. There are instances where the seller will try to gain more value by pretending the vehicle is of a higher power or higher trim level. The correct specification will be detailed on your Cartell Car Check.

Driving the vehicle

Always take a test drive. However, please ensure that you have the relevant qualifications and insurance to drive the vehicle. Start the vehicle from cold. Are there any abnormal noises when the engine is started from cold? Does the oil warning light go out as soon as the engine starts? Are there signs of excessive visible exhaust emissions? Blue smoke may indicate oil burning, white vapour is just water which is a bi-product of clean combustion, and black smoke from diesels which is not great for the environment can be normal as long as it’s not excessive or present when idling.

Look for a recent emissions test, either alone or as part of an NCT. This will confirm that emissions are within the stringent limits applied to modern cars.

Lift the oil filler cap.  There should be no scum under it. When you press down on the clutch, do you hear noises or does the clutch bite more than halfway down? Is the braking even or can you feel the car pull to one side? Are there any unusual noises when you brake? Can the vehicle stop in a straight line in an emergency under full load. Drive the vehicle to 50 km/h and then stop suddenly and listen for noises. Make sure this manoeuvre is done in a safe and isolated environment.

Service History

Always insist on seeing the service history and look at the service book to see where the vehicle was serviced last and what work if any was carried out. Note the mileage on the history and contact the manufacturer or the place where the vehicle was serviced and confirm if the timing belt was changed and if the mileage was recorded.


When a vehicles odometer is interfered with and the mileage reduced, this is known as clocking. Clocking is a major safety concern, as a vehicle with more mileage than indicated may not have had the correct servicing at manufacturers recommended intervals. This leads to increased incidents of mechanical failure resulting in a vehicle having to stop at inopportune locations, for example motorways. In extreme cases it may invoke an accident during timing belt failure at high speeds. Use the mileage on the odometer and compare it to the service history and the manufacturer. Check any part of the interior that a human can touch. Look for signs of wear. Is the steering wheel shiny? Are the radio buttons, electric window buttons and indicators a different shade than the rest of the plastic dash? Have the pedals been replaced? Is the driver’s seat worn? Are there worn screws in the dashboard suggesting that the instruments might have been tampered with? (Modern digital odometers may be tampered with electronically so such clues won’t exist). Interference with the odometer on a motor vehicle without lawful justification is an offence under Irish law since 2014. You can get a mileage check on a Cartell Car Check. When you also get a Cartell Car Check, you will get a mileage check included as long as you enter the current mileage reading. This mileage is cross referenced against Ireland’s largest database of mileages, the National Mileage Register (NMR).


The VIN or Chassis

Each vehicle built which conforms to the World Manufacturer Identifier has a unique 17 digit Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). This is the birth mark of the vehicle. It is stamped into the chassis (skeleton) in at least one location but there is normally more than one location. Lift the carpet in the boot, check the windscreen or the drivers pillar behind the door to view the VIN. It is advisable to check the VIN/Chassis in more than two places on the vehicle. If you are unsure where to look, contact your local garage, they should be able to tell you. Always compare the VIN with your Cartell Car Check to ensure that the VIN matches the registration. It is easy for a criminal to order a new set of plates for a stolen vehicle. It is harder to replace the VIN. Ensure that the VIN has no digits scratched out and there is no evidence of welding around the VIN.


You should always clarify the warranty given with the vehicle and ensure that you get it in writing.


Never pay for a vehicle in cash. The preferred method of payment according to An Garda Siochana is by bank draft or bank transfer in the sellers name, where an audit trail would exist. Agree the price and if paying a deposit, ensure that you get a receipt. Do up a checklist of key questions asked and get the seller to sign the receipt. As soon as the deal is done, ensure that both parties sign the VRC Change of Ownership section and post it to the Department of Transport, Shannon, Co. Clare. Make sure that you get both sets of keys for the vehicle and ensure they open all doors.

Get a Cartell Car Check

Use the information supplied in a Cartell Car Check to verify the vehicle and vehicle documentation before you proceed with the purchase. Match the Vehicle Registration Certificate (VRC) Number, Chassis Number and NCT Certificate Number and avoid a stolen or cloned vehicle.

A Cartell Car Check can be used as a tool to help avoid purchasing a vehicle with an undesirable history. It is imperative to check and cross reference all details on the Cartell Car Check with the vehicle documentation. For full Chassis Number, VRC and NCT Certificate verification you can enter the details when you are buying your Cartell Car Check. Use the information supplied in a Cartell Car Check to verify the vehicle and vehicle documentation before you proceed with the purchase. Match the Vehicle Registration Certificate (VRC) Number, Chassis Number and NCT Certificate Number. Ask to see the vendors’ identification and ensure the name and address match the details on the VRC to ensure the vendor is the owner of the vehicle.

However, Cartell is aware this is not always viable when first looking at a vehicle so for convenience log back into the ‘Complete my Cartell Check’ area on within 30 days after the date you purchased your Cartell Car Check and enter the details using the Order Number and Vehicle Registration Number.

These are some useful bits of buyer advice. Check out for more!


The Finest

Author: The Finest

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