Select Page

Critical Checks: Terms to Know

Colour change: The DVLA must be notified if a vehicle’s colour is changed.They will add this information, along with the previous colour, as well as the date it was changed, to the vehicle’s individual report. .

Exported: This refers to any vehicle that has been exported beyond the boundaries of the UK. Any exports must be reported to the DVLA. If a vehicle returns to the UK, it will not appear as exported any longer. If a vehicle has been exported, for any period of time, you may not get a complete history, which is why purchasing an exported vehicle has the potential to be risky.

Imported: This refers to any vehicle that has previously been outside the boundaries of the UK, based on records maintained by the DVLA. If you come across an imported vehicle, you’ll want to find out what it was used for while outside the country, as well as the reason it was imported to the UK. 

Plate Change: In many cases, plate changes are done to allow owners to personalise the vehicle they own. However, plate changes can also be done to try and hide the history of the vehicle. If a plate has been changed, be careful and make certain the history of the vehicle is clean before finalising your purchase.

Scrapped: When the DVLA designates a vehicle as scrapped, it has been determined to not be safe for use on the road. Instead, the vehicle should be placed in a scrap yard and used for parts. Although it is illegal to sell a vehicle that has been scrapped, there are a few unscrupulous people who may try to do so.

Stolen: When a vehicle is stolen, it is listed on the Motor Insurance Anti-Fraud Theft Register (MIAFTR) and in the Police National Computer. If a vehicle is listed as stolen, you should absolutely refrain from purchasing it. It is someone or some organisation’s property and once they are aware of the vehicle’s location, you will be made to return it. You are also very unlikely to have anything you have paid toward the vehicle returned to you.

Unscrapped: Any vehicle listed as unscrapped was previously determined to be scrapped by the DVLA. However, it is no longer considered to be scrapped. You definitely want to know how and why this happened before finalising your purchase. Using this information you can determine if the vehicle is right for you.

VIC inspected: Vehicles noted as VIC inspected have previously had their true identity called into question or were listed as written off (see below for definition) by an insurance carrier, yet were later returned to the road. Again, you’ll want to know why and how this happened before making your purchase.

Written Off: Vehicles listed as written off have been determined to be a complete loss by an insurance company. This could be because it has had significant damage and the cost of repair exceeds its value or it has been reported stolen and was never recovered. Never purchase a vehicle listed as written off.

Terms Related to Vehicle Details

Body style: A term used to describe the physical shape of the vehicle and provide an estimate of its size. For example a hatchback or coupe.

Colour: This refers to the colour of the vehicle, as recorded by the DVLA. Primary colours, such as black, blue, and red, are used.

Engine Size: This refers to the actual engine size and gets insight into the vehicle’s overall power.

Fuel Type: Fuel type informs you of what fuel type must be used for vehicle operation. In most cases, this is petrol or diesel, but they are other options you may see, including electricity.

Manufacturer: This refers to the company who makes the vehicle. For example, Rolls-Royce, Audi, or Ford.

Model: This refers to the particular vehicle and is used by the manufacturer to distinguish it from any other vehicles. For example, Ford makes the Fiesta, Focus, and Kuga.

No. of doors: No. of doors refers to the vehicle’s total number of doors. A vehicle’s boot may or may be counted.

No. of gears: No. of gears refers to the number of gears the vehicle has. Usually, six gears are seen, with one of them going in reverse and five going forward..

No. of seats: No. of seats refers to the vehicle’s total number of seats and tells you how many people the car can fit.

Transmission: Most often manual or automatic, this details how the vehicle switches gears.

VIN (Vehicle Identification Number): A VIN is a unique serial number and is used to correctly identify a vehicle. Typically, it is associated with the vehicle’s registration number. Always be sure a vehicle’s VIN number and number plate match.

Terms Regarding Ownership

Manufacture Date: This details the date the vehicle is noted as being manufactured, according to records kept by the DVLA.

 No. of previous owners: This number tells you how many people have previously owned the vehicle. Keep in mind that anytime a vehicle changes hands, you must notify the DVLA. If the car has a significant number of past owners, you’ll want to do your homework and find out why before finalising your purchase.

Registration Date: From a legal standpoint, all vehicles must be registered prior to being used. A registration date refers to the day the vehicle was registered with the DVLA.

Vehicle age: The vehicle’s age is determined using the manufacture date and tells the vehicle’s approximate age.

Engine Specific Terms

Brake horse power: This is used to measure the power a vehicle has. The larger the number, the higher the power. The term dates back to the Industrial Revolution, when steam-powered engines were measured by looking at the number of horses it would take the place of.

Cam shift type: Cam shift type explains how the camshaft (operates poppet valves) is arranged within the vehicle’s engine.

Cylinder layout: Details the way the engine cylinders are arranged within the vehicle, such as “inline” or “V”

Engine alignment: explains how the engine is positioned within the vehicle and how it is secured in correlation to the cranshift and long axis.

Engine no. distinct to the engine of the vehicle, which is also where it can be located. Checking the engine no. is necessary for verifying the vehicle’s identity.

Engine position: details where, within the vehicle, the engine can be found, usually the rear or the front.

Euro status: a European engine status marker value.

Fuel delivery: explains what fuel can be safely put in the engine, usually injection.

Kilowatt output: measures the power output of an engine and is the brake horsepower’s metric measurement.

No. of cylinders: refers to how many engine cylinders are located within a vehicle.

No. of Valves: details how many valves are found in the engine.

Additional Terms to Know

0-60 mph time: provides the amount of time needed for a vehicle to go from 0mph to 60mph; in seconds

Derivative details: manufacturer specific information that acts as a specific model’s exclusive reference code; provides the dates in which the derivatives were produced.

Max speed: the greatest speed a vehicle can reach.

Model details: unique to the manufacturer and acts as an exclusive reference code to the specific model; provides the period of production time for the specific model..

Paint colour code: manufacturer specific code naming the colour of the vehicle, which can be important if you need to match the car’s colour at a later date..

Vehicle height: the total length between the chassis’s highest point and the base of the vehicle.

Vehicle length: the total length between the vehicle’s front and rear.

Vehicle type: the vehicle’s class, such as lorry or car

Vehicle weight: the gross weight of the vehicle; given in kilograms.

Vehicle width: measured at the widest point of the vehicle.