THE CRUCIAL document when buying or selling a car is the V5C registration certificate, often called a logbook even though it is just a piece of paper.
The old blue forms have been replaced by red ones for security reasons. If the car still has a blue V5C, check it is not a stolen form. Directgov has a section on this.
A genuine V5C should show a “DVL” watermark if you hold it up to the light. Check that the VIN (vehicle identification number) on the V5C matches that on the car. You will find a metal plate with this number on the driver’s door sill and on the engine; it may also be etched on the windows. Check that the model and variant description matches, as well as the numberplate. If you are buying from a private seller, does the address where the car is being kept tally with the one on the logbook? If not, why not?
Searching for a car’s “logbook”? It’s also known as the V5C registration certificate
Make sure you and the seller fill in and sign all the necessary parts of the V5C. You should have a sales contract or invoice stating the names and addresses of both of you, the date and the price (including, if applicable, the deposit amount) agreed and paid.
Do not buy a car without a V5C. Other paperwork you need to get your hands on is a valid MoT certificate if the car is over three years old, details of any guarantee or warranty and the findings of a mechanical inspection if the seller has had one done. You should also insist on the service booklet and receipts for any work, routine or otherwise, done on the car. The owner’s manual is useful, too, but not irreplaceable if the original has been lost.