Is a vehicle 'born' when it is first registered? And to expand on this, at what point in the process of modifying a vehicle would it have to be legally classified as a 'new' vehicle?

  • I changed the tag for you. – Bob Cross Jan 12 '12 at 13:15
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    @BobCross Thank you, much appreciated; footnote removed. – Samuel Harmer Jan 12 '12 at 13:33
  • You're welcome (and welcome to the site). – Bob Cross Jan 12 '12 at 13:39

In the UK, there are two dates that apply, depending on the circumstances - "Date of Manufacture" and "Date of First Registration". This can lead to some confusion with some of the more technical rules, where one requirement might apply to cars built after a certain date, while another might apply to those first registered after a date.

As Bob says, vehicles can sometimes spend some time sitting on a forecourt or in a storage lot and still be sold as 'new' - i.e. unused.

When it comes to modification, we have a points system, whereby certain major components (engine, transmission, bodyshell etc) each count for a certain number of points. If your car has more than 8 points, it is still legally the same car. If you modify it so much that less that 8 points remain original, it has to be re-registered as a special and has to go through a rigourous safety inspection.

[edit in response to the OP's comment below]

As far as I know, these rules applies to anything, but I might be wrong. I believe like-for-like replacements are fine for most parts, although not for the bodyshell (and possibly the engine). Some parts are even more complicated however, for example in the case of engine swaps, the car has to meet the emission standards based on either the date of first registration, or the manufacture date of the replacement engine, whichever is the earlier...

There is information on the Direct.gov.uk website (Direct.gov - registering a radically altered vehicle), and on the VOSA site (VOSA MOT guide). There is also an MOT guide on the independant UKMOT.com website (UKMOT)

  • Great answer, thank you Nick. Please can you update your answer to clarify the following items. Does that points system apply to all motor vehicles or just cars? Can you provide links to where I might find information on this system? If you replace like-for-like do the points remain unaffected? – Samuel Harmer Jan 12 '12 at 14:05
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    Done. For questions like this that are very much jurisdiction-dependant, it always helps if you note which country/state/territory you are in, so you get answers more approrpiate to your area (as you have now done). – Nick C Jan 12 '12 at 16:18
  • Much appreciated. I realised location can be important, but didn't want to exclude other legitimate answers as I can forsee the answers being wanted in the future for locations other than mine. – Samuel Harmer Jan 12 '12 at 16:43

The following is written from the perspective of standard practice in the USA:

A vehicle's actual age is defined by its date of manufacture.

The sales-based definition of "new" vs. "not new" is something of a fiction. The dealer can take delivery of a car from the factory, hang onto it for quite some time and still sell it as new if they can find a buyer at that late date. This dealer-defined "new" is usually of primary importance to the customer since that's when the dealer-supported warranty starts. In the state where I live, this also kicks off the count-down to your first safety inspection: new cars aren't required to get an inspection for two years.

It is not immediately clear if it would be illegal for a dealer to hold onto (for example) a 2008 vehicle, keep it pristine in their showroom and still sell it as "new" in 2012. However, I have to think that there would be an immediate civil case.

Finally, where I live, there is no link between modification of the vehicle and its "new" status. The dealer warranty support, however, will take some hits based on the modifications selected.

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    Very useful, thank you so +1. I forgot to mention I was aiming for U.K. regs though, which Nick's answer included. – Samuel Harmer Jan 12 '12 at 14:09
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    I always wonder if my MR2 was sold as "new"... I traced it's history and found that it was built in 12/90, delivered to a dealer, and didn't sell until '93... And sold with only a few miles on it. So, it wasn't "used", but wasn't exactly "new" at that point either! :-) – Brian Knoblauch Jan 12 '12 at 14:24
  • @BrianKnoblauch, exactly why I included the "actual age" clause: that's the one that normal people actually care about. In my case, the WRX actually changed body styles a month or two earlier so I was pretty sure that I was looking at a new car.... ;-) – Bob Cross Jan 12 '12 at 18:05

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