SPRING will soon be in the air and with it can come the urge for a new set of wheels.
But as always caution is the key rather than eagerness to jump into the driving seat of a dream car.
The truth is that many buyers are all too eager to seal the deal and hand over their hard earned money.
But, say vehicle history check experts HPI, it's vital to look beyond the shiny paintwork and high spec interior to avoid being caught out.
Having the correct paperwork present when looking at the car will provide buyers with peace of mind, but it's crucial to know exactly what to look for.
HPI warns consumers not to buy a car without a V5C - otherwise known as a logbook - and make sure it's genuine by looking for the DVLA watermark which can be seen when holding it up to the light.
If there's no to hand, a new one can be applied for, but buyers should ask themselves and the seller why it isn't available. If it's been mislaid, ideally the vendor should have applied for a replacement before selling.
Whilst the V5C tells buyers how many owners the car has had and who it's registered to, it's important to note that the person listed isn't necessarily the legal owner of the car, simply the person to whom any fines will be sent.
Buyers and sellers alike are also warned that not telling the DVLA of a change in vehicle ownership is an offence.
From three years after the date of first registration, all cars need an MoT certificate. It's important to check the historical mileage reading for each year of its MOT test, not just the current reading, as this should paint a consistent picture of the vehicle's increasing mileage over the car's life.
In addition, an MOT certificate will only tell buyers that the car met the test requirements on the particular day when the test was done, so it's important buyers don't rely on the MOT as an indicator of the vehicle's current general mechanical condition.
With all information now logged centrally, buyers can easily check if a vehicle's MoT is valid by entering the vehicle registration and make online.
Before October 2014, all drivers were obliged to display a disc in the front window of their vehicle to show that they had paid road tax however, today, vehicle tax data is now stored online so it is no longer necessary to display a tax disc.
But, when a car is sold, the vendor must cash in their existing road tax and the buyer must buy their own.
It is illegal to drive an untaxed car on the UK's roads and the police can establish immediately whether a car has been taxed or not by accessing the DVLA database; buyers should always make sure they have tax in place before driving off in their dream car.
Ideally a car will have been professionally maintained from new by the supplying dealer, but proof of regular servicing is a valuable asset when buying a used car.
Not only will it enable buyers to check the mileage has gone up in the right stages, it is also evidence that the car has been adequately maintained and is unlikely to experience any expensive wear and tear issues in the near future.
Not checking the relevant paperwork can prevent a financial disaster by ending up with a car that is stolen, written-off, clocked or belongs to someone else or to a finance company.
As with many things doing it correctly and being patient is the key to a successful purchase.