Should I buy an ex-taxi or ex-private hire vehicle?

We get asked this question a lot by interested car buyers who have often spotted a cheap vehicle for sale and wish to know more about its history.

Should you buy an ex-taxi? The short answer is: yes, if you think the price reflects its prior life and usage. But be aware there are some significant pitfalls.

In this article we will delve into how to spot an ex-taxi, or delivery van (eg Tesco) and other ex-commercial vehicles, whether they represent good value for money, and what to do if you’ve inadvertently bought one.


Is it possible to spot an ex-taxi or ex-courier vehicle visually?

No, probably not.

It’s a nice idea – some may tell you to look for beaded seat covers, or even a higher than expected mileage, but ultimately none of these are going to be guarantees that the vehicle was previously used as a taxi or Uber.

The good news is that tt may be slightly easier to spot an ex-delivery / ex-courier van. The old decals will have long been removed but you can often see where they used to be. That part of the bodywork will sometimes be a slightly different colour where it hasn’t been subjected to sun exposure.

Another option is to run your fingers over the panels and try to ‘feel’ for any old removed decals and differences in the paintwork.

The easiest way to find out if a vehicle is an ex-taxi, is to buy a car check.

How can I tell if I’m buying an ex taxi then?

At the time of writing, HPI Check do not offer any sort of ex-taxi check with any of their packages. The short answer is, the only way to tell for sure, is to purchase a special “ex taxi check”.

FreeCarCheck will shortly offer this as a FREE service as part of our Free report, but until that is ready, you’ll need to buy an ex-taxi vehicle check from somewhere like


Is this a former taxi? (Answer: yes)



What are the risks of buying an ex-taxi?

If the seller knows that they are selling an ex taxi, then they should – in theory – tell you, but many will only do this if asked.

Most dealers will probably not say anything – and in the UK there is no legal requirement to inform the buyer anyway.

It’s possible that buying an ex-taxi is completely risk-free and you may not need to worry, but it’s always best to be informed if you can. Ex-hire cars should be cheaper than those only used for domestic use – they will have higher mileages and more visual signs of usage, so this must be reflected in the price.

Indeed, this can also be a reasonably effective way of spotting an ex-hire car: it will be cheaper than all the other equivalents.Which brings us on to the next point…


Are ex-taxi vehicles cheaper to buy?

Yes and no.

In many cases, you could try to argue the price down before committing to purchase, if the vehicle has been used previously as a taxi. Why? Because generally the mileage will be higher, and there may be more signs of wear-and-tear which will affect your own resale value when you come to sell it later.

Since smoking has been banned in taxis for a number of years in the UK now, it’s unlikely that newer ex-taxis will smell of smoke. But they may have more engine wear from frequent stopping and starting, and the clutch may have higher wear than you would expect (for similar reasons).


What will an ex-private hire vehicle check cover?

There’s some debate about buying an ex taxi to bag a bargain. It’s ultimately up to the buyer to decide what’s best for them – but whatever you decide, make sure to get a full vehicle check first before deciding.

Our free vehicle checks will check any vehicle including ex-taxis for all this:

  • Write off history
  • If the vehicle has been scrapped
  • Any outstanding finance
  • Full MoT history and mileage records
  • Import / Export status
  • …and much more!


4.7/5 - (3 votes)

4 thoughts on “Should I buy an ex-taxi or ex-private hire vehicle?

  1. In most cases, taxis and private hire cars are subjected to an annual MOT test plus bi annual council checks. So while there is extra high mileage on the car, it will be better cared for than most.

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  • Scrapped check
  • No. of owners
  • Any finance?
  • Theft / stolen
  • Import / export
  • Full MOT history
  • ...and loads more!