Buying a SORN car

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Whether you’re looking for a bargain, or a new project, SORN cars can be great value for money. Sites like Ebay and Gumtree make it easy to buy and sell SORN cars. But if you’re thinking of buying one then there’s a few things you should consider.

How to check if a car is taxed

The first thing to do is check the tax status of the car. A vehicle needs to be declared SORN with the DVLA. You can check a vehicle’s tax status on the official government website. You can also confirm other useful details here, such as when its MOT expires. If the car is displayed as taxed then you’ll need to query this with the owner.

Can a SORN be transferred?

A SORN can’t be transferred from a previous owner – once you buy the SORN will expire and it will be your legal obligation to tax it. However there’s nothing stopping you from buying a SORN vehicle and then declaring it SORN again after you’ve bought it. When you SORN a vehicle you’ll be refunded any full months of unused tax that you’ve already paid for.

Viewing the car

You can’t test drive a car whilst it is declared SORN – If you want to arrange a test drive then you or the owner will need to arrange tax for the car first. However most sellers are unlikely to agree to this. You’ll also need to consider whether the car is road legal and road safe. However, there are some basic checks you can perform on the vehicle without a test drive:

  • Ask the owner to start the car – In most cases they will be able to do this, unless there is an issue with the engine or ignition
  • Check the central locking – Does the vehicle lock/unlock ok?
  • Test the electrics – This can be done by turning on the ignition and checking the dashboard, radio, board computer, windows etc.
  • Look under the vehicle – You need to check for any obvious issues with the exhaust or suspension and look for any leaks.
  • Check the tyres – Look for bulges or nails and check the tread. It might also be worth taking a tyre pressure guage.
  • Look under the bonnet – Even if you’re not a mechanic you might be able to spot any obvious issues.
  • Check the VIN number – This is usually found stamped on the engine bay, around the trim of the door, or in the bottom corner of the windscreen. Once you have the VIN you can use an online service to verify the identity of the car.

Driving the car or arranging transportation

IMPORTANT: When buying a SORN car you should not drive it home. Even unknowingly driving a SORN car could invalidate your insurance if you were involved in an incident while behind the wheel.

You are only allowed to drive a SORN car if you are taking it to a pre-booked MOT. If you have trade plates then you can drive the car as long as the plates are being used correctly.

Protecting your SORN car

If you’ve declared your car as SORN then you no longer need to insure it. However an uninsured vehicle of any type is still vulnerable to theft, fire and damage. SORN insurance is cheaper than standard car insurance and can cover your vehicle against theft, fire and accidental damage.