It’s illegal to sell a car in the UK with outstanding finance, but it’s still something that occurs. Owning a car with outstanding finance can cause you big problems as you’ll have to provide you have legal right to own the vehicle which can be tough since the finance company will technically still own the car.
Buying a car with outstanding finance can cause you issues in the future, so by having an outstanding finance check carried out beforehand, you will know precisely what you’re getting into.
An outstanding finance check shows if any money is owed or tied to the vehicle in question. If you’re buying a used car, carrying out an outstanding finance check will ensure there is no money owing on the vehicle before you commit to the sale. It will also give you details of the company the financial agreement is with, should you need to contact them to settle the debt or explain your situation in the future.
Since one in three checks show adverse history that potential buyers don’t know about, an outstanding finance check will provide peace of mind that there’s no outstanding balance on the car. With the information provided before any money exchanges hands, you will have the opportunity to walk away from the sale if it turns out to not be as good of a deal as it first appeared.
If the report shows that there’s finance on the vehicle, you should contact the owner or seller of the car and advise them to settle the remaining balance before you proceed with the sale. If they are reluctant to do so, this should be a warning sign and you should walk away from the sale completely.
If you’ve already purchased the car and you have discovered there’s outstanding finance, you will need to seek legal advice on next steps to prove that you were unaware that there was a balance on the vehicle. But this can be difficult to do which is why it is advisable to have an outstanding finance check carried out before you buy.
If you discover that there is a debt associated to the vehicle, it’s advisable to walk away if the owner isn’t willing to pay the debt. It’s also important to note that if they accept their part in paying off the debt, you should request evidence that the finance amount has been settled before you agree to the deal.
If you bought a vehicle and genuinely had no idea that there was outstanding finance on it, you might, theoretically, have the right to keep it. This is a result of what is known as a ‘good title’ which means you bought it in good faith and had no prior knowledge that there was an issue. However, the finance company will still want its money back and you will be required to respond to any queries they might have about the situation.
If your explanations fall on deaf ears, you may end up being forced to pay off the debt even though it’s not yours, in order to be allowed to keep the car. This is on top of any finance you may have taken out to buy the car in the first place. So, you could wind up paying off the vehicle twice. Contact the finance company in writing to explain the situation and keep any copies of correspondence you send or receive. It may also be worthwhile contacting Citizen’s Advice for further information and guidance on the topic.
Whether the seller is trading a financed car or they are selling one they own outright, the paperwork you need to check will remain the same. As a buyer, you need to read these documents carefully to ensure the deal is as stress- and hassle-free as possible. These include:
Before you sell a car with outstanding finance, you must notify your lender and arrange to pay the remainder of what you owe; you can either pay what you owe directly to the lender or sell your car to a dealer who will pay the outstanding balance and give you the surplus.
Selling a car with outstanding finance any other way is illegal.