New road tax rules and buying a used car
The new system also has implications when it comes to buying a used car. Here’s our guide
What if I buy a second-hand car – can I drive it home: Not unless you organise tax before you hit the road. The new system means road tax is linked to the owner and not the car. A DVLA spokesperson told us:
Anyone buying a car can tax the vehicle using the New Keeper Supplement (V5C/2) part of the vehicle registration certificate (V5C) online or by using our automated phone service – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
In short, to stay legal you will need to stand at the side of the road and buy road tax before you drive away. Make sure you take your tablet or mobile.
Prices: Many used cars were sold with a premium on the basis that they came with a good chunk of road tax. This will no longer be the case because road tax won’t be transferred to the new owner. Aside from the inconvenience of having to organise your own tax, the new system should see prices of used cars fall – especially when buying from a private seller. Make sure you don’t pay for what you’re not getting.
Haggle down: Searching online for a cheap car, we found a 13-year-old Ford Focus 1.8 Zetec 3dr up for £500. The car was described as ‘rusty’ but a ‘good runner’ and a great stop-gap with six months tax and MOT. We checked the www.vehicleenquiry.service.gov.uk website and confirmed this to be the case. Therefore, when the new non-transferable road tax system comes into place, the cost of this car should drop by at least £124.00 – the value of six months tax (the www.vehicleenquiry.service.gov.uk website will confirm these figures when you enter the numberplate). However, in reality, we would expect the £500 asking price to fall to around £300.00 because the instant drive-away value of the vehicle is severely depleted. Grab a few back-copies of the current Autotrader issue, which will help you compare prices of tax disc-included cars – and those without the perk. Just remember – the tax remaining on the car is refunded to the owner and not transferred with the car.
Check before you buy: Now that you’ll need to get road tax before you drive away, make sure the car you’re buying really does have an MOT. Ask the vendor for the vehicle’s numberplate before you view, then enter it here to check it has a valid certificate. The result will also tell you the vehicle’s road tax status. Use this to validate the vendor’s back story on the car – such as claims it’s used on a daily basis. If true, the road tax should be current or recently cancelled – finding the car has a long-standing SORN status would suggest a dealer masquerading as a private seller.