What checks should I do on a car before buying?

on Monday, 05 December 2016. Posted in Car Buying Advice

What checks should I do on a car before buying?

At VCL we witness so many people don’t know how to go about getting a vehicle checked and the ones that do go for the cheapest vehicle checks on the market, especial the ones via text message. in many cases these are not as comprehensive as HPI or Experian which are the leading industry companies which the motor trade use.

If not checked correctly could leave the buyer exposed in many ways.

So Its not all about the cosmetic condition appearance, mechanical engine checks you make on a vehicle you’re interested in buying.

So why is a vehicle check so important, we would say Its essentially, it’s a specific service provided by mainly two companies Experian or HPI  that draws on information from the police, DVLA and leading industry bodies to tell you things about a vehicle that perhaps the seller doesn’t know, or maybe doesn’t want you to know.

According to Experian, 88% of used vehicles on sale in 2012 had a hidden history that severely lowered their value and potentially made them a danger on the road.

What does an either Experian or HPI check reveal?

Outstanding finance

Nearly 25% of vehicles that undergo an Experian or HPI check have outstanding finance. So you wouldn’t be the legal owner of the vehicle (the finance company would be), but you could still be liable for the debt. The finance company would also have the right to repossess the car, leaving you out of pocket and without a car.


Every day, nearly 30 cars are identified as stolen and added to the Police National Computer. If your vehicle is one of them, the police have every right to seize it.


4% of vehicles that undergo an HPI check have been written off as a result of damage or theft. These vehicles may have been repaired, but you need to see proof that they were repaired reliably and are now safe to drive.

Stolen V5 document check

If the V5 document accompanying a vehicle is part of a stolen batch, you can’t trust the legitimacy of the vehicle.

Vehicle Identity

A car check will confirm with the DVLA the make, model, door plan, vehicle's current colour & prior colour, transmission and engine size, as well as how many times it has changed hands. You need to ensure that the latter in particular matches the seller’s story.

Plate transfer

20% of cars that have had a vehicle check have had at least one plate change. Usually there is nothing to worry about, but a change of plates can be used to hide a car's past, so it’s worth asking questions about it.

Number plate and VIN/chassis numbers

A car check will tell you whether the VRM and VIN correspond to DVLA records. If they don’t, there could be a number of problems with the vehicle.

What doesn’t show up on an Experian or HP check?

At VCL we are fully aware there are some things that an HPI or Experian check doesn’t disclose. These include information on current or previous owners, but this wouldn’t reveal much about a vehicle’s safety and legitimacy anyway. The checks we also cover are any previous repairs, its service history, MOT history and any advisories. Every vehicle VCL locates always include an Experian check as standard.

Leave a comment

You are commenting as guest.

Customer Testimonials

See what our customers have said about us

Read more

Our Fees

We operate a transparent pricing structure

Read more

Financing your car

See how we can help you finance your new car

Read more


First Name
Last Name
Email *
Enter the following to confirm your subscription *


address book 64

St Helens Road, Harrogate, North Yorkshire
HG2 8LB, United Kingdom
phone retro 64  01423 883015
iphone 64  0770 301 3064