Caution urged when buying used car

Motorists are being urged to carry out thorough history checks before they buy a used car after the BBC's Top Gear show highlighted some of the problems associated with second-hand purchases.

In a recent episode, presenters Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May each bought a used BMW 325i convertible.

On paper, the three cars were seemingly identical, but the discrepancies began to show once the cars were put to test.

Hammond's car, for instance, purportedly had 74,000 miles on the clock - a low figure relative to the age of the car and in comparison with the vehicles of Clarkson and May.

According to vehicle history specialist HPI, a hidden past is something that drivers should watch out for before they buy a used vehicle and take outcar insurance cover for it.

Some of the problems the Top Gear team found would have been easily revealed in an HPI check, it said.

Nicola Johnson, consumer services manager at HPI, said: "Six in every 100 vehicles checked with HPI have a mileage discrepancy.

"Not only can these mileage discrepancies inflate the value of the vehicle, but as we saw on the Top Gear programme, they could lead to safety risks if vehicles miss out on crucial servicing and replacement work for vital components - as seen with Richard Hammond's BMW ignition barrel. However, the HPI Check comes with a mileage check as standard, offering consumers the ultimate in protection."

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