Buying a car process in the UK
Okay so I am writing this from our perspective as New Zealanders but regardless of where you have travelled from, hopefully this gives you some insights and help from our experience of finding and buying our first Land Rover – Clifford (sadly stolen), and then our second vehicle – Baloo.
Where to look
Our research starts in NZ, months before we even get to the UK, this helps us narrow down what we want out of a car. Once we arrive in the UK we search through Ebay, LRO (specific for land rovers), Gumtree and car dealership websites. We have the best of luck through EBay and LRO. As we are based in London majority of cars will not be for sale in London central but are located in other parts of the UK. We just catch trains to do viewings etc… as you can never be in the perfect location.
Things to look out for when buying a vehicle
Our top things to look out for are;
Mileage – if you are going to do a big European road trip you don’t want to be buying a vehicle that already has a couple of hundred thousand miles on it already, you are more likely to have issues down the track.
Type of car – We have already decided on a Defender but when choosing a car you need to think about how well you know these types of vehicles. Are you prepared to fix it yourself or will you need a mechanic? Are parts easily available in the countries you are going? How reliable is the make of vehicles? Is there enough room for you to fit everything you would like to when travelling?
A Defender is our ideal car, Sam knows the engines well and is prepared to work on the car when needed. We decide we want flexibility on where the car can go and for us this meant a 4×4 vehicle. Although storage space is smaller than other vehicles, we will be sleeping on the roof of the car so that clears out a lot of room for all of our gear. Parts are easily available through Europe as well as finding someone to help work on Land Rovers.
Both of the cars we purchased have amazing mileage and were in good condition, we were prepared to pay a higher price to have less issues along the way.
If you are looking into buying a Land Rover Defender, rust is a major issue you will want to look out for. Ideally we want to ship our car back to New Zealand so rust is something we are not able to comprise on or it won’t make it in. Look out for chassis rust, ask the current owner to send through photos of any rust on the vehicle and then work out how much you are able to work with or if its going to become a massive problem that will spread like a virus.
Sam owns a series lll Land Rover back home and has had to cut out and re weld sections of the chassis and knows how much of an issue it can become so make sure you discuss with someone that knows Defenders before purchasing.
Procedure of buying
Once you have viewed some cars and narrowed it down, you may be interested in getting a professional to have a full look over the car before you purchase. We got out the RAC, they do a full report and it will be your best chance at catching any problems before purchasing. We paid about £300 for our check on Clifford.
If all comes back clear and you are prepared to make a deal on the car go ahead thats great! We found the process of paying a private seller a little complicated. Wiring money from NZ took about 3 days, requiring you to speak to the bank directly, and you lose out with the currency exchange. We went through a personal banker rather than online where the amount transfers will be capped at a certain point (this obviously is dependant on the amount you are purchasing the car for).
In the UK no car can be driven away without all the change of ownership, insurance and tax has been paid so it can be a stressful process. Better to get everything lined up and prepared before you pick up the vehicle, including phone numbers, quotes to accept insurance and credit cards ready.
We set up a Revolt bank account in the UK, this is a multi currency travel card. This makes it easier to put all of our payments on one card in GBP rather than using our home credit cards in NZD. A lot of online payments in the UK will only take a UK credit card so good to have a back up if you get stuck. To set up a bank account you do however need an address in the UK. Other companies may also require additional information before allowing you to set up a UK bank acc.
V5 and MOT
V5 logbooks are our worst enemy, we have had so many issues with these. In the UK everything will only be sent by post nothing can be done online therefore you are required to have a UK address. For us we used some family friends who live in London.
A V5 log book basically is a 4 page piece of paper that has all your car details and ownership details on it. If you need to change owner, colour, number plate this all has to be done using the V5 paper form. When you go to collect your new vehicle the original owner will fill out a green section and so will you. They will then tear off and give you that section to drive away with (this is a temporary V5 referred to as the green slip,) they will then post back the remaining pages so that the ownership can be transferred into your name. This process generally takes a week or so. Your new V5 will then be sent to you in the mail, with all your details on it, as the owner this needs to be carried in the car at all times and make sure all the details match the car.
MOT is the UK equivalent of a WOF this needs to be completed in the UK. If you are travelling abroad long term you will need to check with you insurance if they will cover the car on another country in Europes equivalent of the MOT. Some will not and you will be required to go back to the UK before your MOT expires. Top tip : if your MOT expires and you then enter the UK without one you will receive a large fine, instead book in a MOT before you arrive to the UK and you are allowed to drive through the UK for the purpose of obtaining the MOT that same day without the risk of being fined.
Vehicles in the UK need to have prepaid tax, even if you are driving abroad you need UK tax for your insurance to be valid. You can pay for this monthly, six monthly or annually. For our first Defender, tax for 1 year was £500. If you were to sell the car before your tax expires you will get a refund for the time you did not use the car.
Insurance was a massive process for us, we did endless research and now have experience with two companies. For a New Zealander wanting to get car insurance in the UK it can be an extremely complicated expensive process. There are very limited companies that will insure a New Zealander in the UK. We have only found two companies that would insure us.
We went with Down Under with Clifford. They were helpful and especially dealt with people from New Zealand and Australia. Insurance for Clifford came in at a whopping £2,200 for 1 year. This was due to the size of the car and the value. We unfortunately lucked out by not reading the fine, fine print. When Clifford was stolen we were un aware that all of our modifications (tent, roof rack, fridge etc) were not covered they would only cover the car. They also only covered £100 worth of contents which we were not aware of. Our travel insurance also didn’t cover anything left in a car that is stolen, watch out for this. Top Tip : READ THE FINE PRINT, ASK QUESTIONS, GET CHANGES IN WRITING!
We went with herts for our second insurance we were now very vigilant about reading all the fine print and amending anything we were not happy with. Making sure all modifications were covered and that the car would be covered if left in storage in a different country. Due to our claim on Clifford our premium did rise and we paid £2,600 for a year worth of insurance even through Baloo was a much older car and was valued less. So far Herts have been good, easy to deal with and helpful.
Both companies are good to have a look into. Please also note that if you are not from the UK you will struggle to get insurance with more than 1 claim. We had this problem as I (Greta) have a claim from 2 years ago back home and Sam now has his claim through Clifford getting stolen. This resulted in only Sam being able to drive the car until my claim had been cleared for three years. Being Under 25 prices also rise so can get expensive quickly.
Setting up your vehicle for travel
You will need to decide for yourself what you would like out of a vehicle and how to set it up dependant on what vehicle you buy. I have listed out our top places that we brought everything for a quick set up
Ikea – amazing for bedding, kitchen equipment, towels etc
Blacks & Outdoor camping – Two top stores for finding chairs tables, stoves, gas etc generally have good bargains.
Decathlon – Decathlon is amazing it has everything for any sort of sport and a great camping section we found towels, lighting, shower tents etc here it is massive and located all around the UK and Europe.
B&Q – hardware store we got our storage boxes, tools, racket straps etc from here. They are only in the UK.
Amazon – amazon was just great for us to get everything delivered, we got our shower, pots, pans, electronics just anything we were missing from amazon.
Trek overland – If you buy a 4×4 these guys have a lot of overloading equipment.
We also got our fridge from a company called MPS Trading in the UK, It was a lot more expensive then buying back home as they mainly come from Australia. But after research we decided on the ARB 47L 12v/24/230v compressor Fridge Freezer. It can be a fridge or freezer just not at the same time. Alternatively a lot of people opt for cool boxes. These are 12V and a lot more affordable. Do be aware that these chew through your battery a lot faster.
Supermarkets in the UK are massive and will have almost everything you are looking for so best to go check out an Asda or Tesco for some cheap deals.
Top things to remember
When picking up the vehicle make sure you have before you drive away
• tax paid
• V5 green slip from original owner filled out
• Insurance paid for and confirmed
Remember Europe has got everything the UK has if you forget something just go get it in Europe. If you spend so much time creating the perfect set up you will never leave. We found that we were better to start with the most minimal amount of equipment to get by instead of having equipment we never used just incase we need it. We buy things along the way as we need them and as we get a better feeling for our lifestyle and what is most import fo us.
In a future post we are going to talk about the specific details of our car including our electrical set up and all our equipment with links.
Please feel free to ask any questions and we can do our best to help you!