Documents you need to check when buying a second hand car

Documents you need to check when buying a second hand car

Buying a second hand car, also known as pre-owned, has its peril. The physical appearance of the car or how it runs can cover up important things that you might miss in buying one. Thankfully, there’s one thing you can check to make sure that the car you’re about to buy is clean – the documents.

Original copy of Certificate of Vehicle Registration (CR)

The Certificate of Motor Vehicle Registration is an official document from the Land Transportation Office (LTO) that shows proof that the vehicle you’re about to buy has already been registered. As we all know, you won’t be able to register your vehicle if it has an unsettled police report and unpaid fines, so this document allows you to check whether the car is clean.

However, this doesn’t mean that you’re all good from here. You have to read what’s written on the registration and make sure that it’s not a counterfeit. It should have the year and model of the vehicle, as well as its specific color and other specifications of the vehicle. The car’s chassis number should also be the same as what’s written on paper.

Moreover, it should not have the word “ENCUMBERED” written on the upper right section of the vehicle registration certificate. This signifies that the owner isn’t clear yet from its financial obligation from the bank or the institution that paid for it. If it has been previously encumbered but has already been settled, ask for the Release of Chattel Mortgage.

Original receipt of registration (OR)

Of course, when you register your car, it will come with the receipt. This should also be consistent with the details on the Certificate of Vehicle Registration, such as the date of registration. Just like the Certificate, you can double check its validity by contacting the LTO.

Without a valid OR and CR, you need to reconsider your decision in buying the car that you’re eyeing. You don’t want to end up driving home an illegal set of wheels.

Original LTO plate number

The Original LTO plate number should only be the ones attached to the vehicle that you want to buy. It should also have the sticker of the current year of registration on it. On the other hand, for cars with new license plates (the white one with black letters and numbers), you can check if it is registered at LTO by looking at the sticker that’s placed inside the right side of the windshield.  

Using the plate number, you can also check more information about the car such as pending alarms, apprehensions, last registration date, make, color, year, and more. To do this, you can just text the following to 2600: LTO Vehicle <plate number>.

If the car has plates other than what LTO issued, ask for the Authority to Use Customized Plate from the seller. If this isn’t available, ask the seller to replace the plates with the original one. If that’s not possible, then it’s time to move on to your next target car.

Notarized Deed of Sale

When you’re ready to buy the car, you should have a Deed of Sale ready so you could proceed with the transaction. This should be notarized to solidify its legality. Without this, the whole transaction will be null and void.

Making sure that the documents are correct is as important as making sure that the car that you’re about buy is still running. It can also prove (or disprove) any claim about the car and will serve as your protection, in case the purchase was a fraud.  

If you want to check if the documents are indeed legitimate and not fabricated, you can always visit or call LTO. Moreover, you should ask for the seller’s valid ID (preferably the driver’s license) to confirm his/her identity.