::: Things to Look For When Buying a Second
Hand Golf GTi :::
There are some basic pointers to be aware of when buying
any second hand car and most can be applied in general to all cars.
The first thing to look for before getting grubby under the car is
its authenticity. Check the V5 document against the chassis number
stamped on the car and stamped on the VIN plate. Both must match the V5.
Then check the colour, engine number and owner details. Obviously if the
car has had a replacement engine or a respray then some details may not
match, but you really need some evidence of this. Without evidence to
explain inconsistencies, the car could be stolen or a 'ringer'. Parting
with hard-earned cash for it is not advised. In many cases you'll have
no legal right to it and the police can confiscate it. If the vendor
claims to be a private seller, then ask a few questions to try to verify
this. Check for signs of tampering around the VIN plate or damage around
the chassis number. If either are present then walk away.
» Accident Damage
The next things to look for in your potential purchase are signs of
accident damage. Step back and look at the car from a distance, and from
all angles. A bent car will often "look" bent from far enough
away, if it looks even fractionally strange - keep your wits about you
and proceed with care.
Look at the panel gaps, as these should be neat, even, and consistent
throughout the car. If they are not then panels may well have been
changed. Look at the paintwork and check for signs of overspray
(typically on any trim/glass or around the door shuts etc) or for a
non-factory finish. Both imply some repair work has been carried out!
Look down the line of each panel in a harsh light (petrol station
forecourt lights at night are best) as this will show ripples in the
panel work or differences in the paint finishes which again point to a
There should be a white bar coded sticker on the inside lip of the
boot and half way up the door shut on the B pillar. If these are not
present then the car has probably been resprayed. Each panel should have
a VAG stamp on it and if these cannot be located then it is likely the
panels are replacement parts - again indicating an accident repair. Keep
an eye out for large quantities of non-factory underseal as this is
often used to cover up botched welding and repair work. Look under the
bonnet and examine the two main chassis rails and engine bay
crossmembers. Look for dents and crinkles which would indicate accident
Look under the carpet in the boot and footwells (if possible) and
check for creases and marks that might indicate a shunt. Check the
origins of the trim and lights because a patent part bumper on the front
but not the back, combined for example with non-Hella headlamps, might
indicate that the car has had a 'front-ender'.
You should also be wary of ill-fitting trim, as this is another sign
that the car has been patched together after an accident.
Do not be put off just because you've spotted some non-original
paint, as most cars over 10yrs old are likely to have had a few knocks
and scrapes if not some general neatening up. What you need to check for
is that the car has not been in any serious accidents that would either
compromise the integrity of the chassis, impair handling (and thus
safety) or just look crap. Minor panel damage (that has been repaired)
is not serious, but damage to the chassis rails or the floorpan etc
obviously indicate a shadier past.
Find out how long is left on the MOT and Tax and check that the tax
disc actually applies to the car (sounds silly but it is a common scam)
as these both affect what you should pay for the car. If the car has
"insurance approved" security then make sure the owner has the
installation certificate. If not then budget £100 for getting a Cat 2