Vehicle check: Round up of the leading offers
Car check by number plate
A thorough roundup of the best car history check websites in the UK
Buying a car that’s written off or, even worse, stolen will have disastrous consequences that can leave you dismayed, angry and out of pocket.
Even in the 21st century, hundreds of thousands of car buyers risk having their new car legally taken away because it was later found to be stolen, with no route to reclaiming any of their lost money.
Or they find the vehicle they didn’t check is worth 20% of what they paid because it was written-off.
People are also overlooking potential finance company involvement where a car still has a loan secured against it.
Buy a car with outstanding finance, and either the Police or the lending company will expect the car back. That means the oblivious buyer loses their new car and the money they used to pay for it.
Car history check
The simplest way to avoid being a victim of car crime is to run a vehicle check by using a registration number to carry out your very own car data check.
Motor dealers run these types of checks on any car they buy-in from a private seller or by way of part exchange. Less often (due to indemnity insurance), they’ll use a service like HPI check after buying through an auction.
Car history checks, explained
- What do all car data checks have in common?
- Which bits of a car history check are the most important?
- Understand mileage fraud
- Useful extras in some car history reports
- What’s the best vehicle check on the market?
- Hpi check review
- CarVeto review
- Cazana review
- AA car check review
- Car Analytics review
- It’s On The Meter: Conclusion
Facts about car check services:
All providers get prominent vehicle information from the same sources:
Motor Insurance Anti Fraud Theft Register (the MIAFTR),
Police National Computer (PNC),
Motor Insurance Bureau (MIB),
Asset register of their choice (HPI Check and Experian Finance are the main ones).
HPI Check does own the National Mileage Register (NMR), which holds a record of any car that might have been clocked. Other car history check providers rely on a DVLA MOT checklist using the mileage at past tests for anomalies.
Prices vary greatly and range anywhere from £9.00 to £20.00
Customer service varies a lot with these online services. If you hit a snag and need some help, you will be glad to choose a service with responsive customer support.
Get a basic car check via DVLA.
False mileage history
Erroneous mileage history destroys vehicle safety and value.
Most car checks will highlight discrepancies in past mileage, so it’s well worth a bit of time and money to check car status.
Mileage fraud happens when a car owner wants to increase value. A handful of firms will happily reduce mileage from, let’s say, 100,000 miles to 60,000 miles (for a fee, of course).
Clocking has become more common now than ever before. HPI limited declared that 1 in 11 vehicles checked have a discrepancy, a considerable number when you think about how many cars are on sale in the UK.
Car check report extras
Before you part with your hard-earned cash, you may want to know about past number plate changes, if body colour has ever changed and when the last vehicle registration certificate was issued. A vehicle history check highlights these issues and more.
To be extra vigilant, cross-reference:
Vehicle identification number (VIN),
Number of owners
It takes minutes to compare your vehicle check report with the car and its documentation. Note the exclusion of car service history that is not freely available or included in any such car data check.
We say that a detailed provenance and performance data report is some of the best time and money you can invest into your new purchase.
Who do we think has the best service to check out car history?
Most services offer vehicle checks in a bundle (buy two get one free).
To minimise your risk, we recommend vehicles checks at any point before securing a car. You might prefer to run a bunch of online checks before setting off for viewings. Others like to run a single check as the last step before they buy.
We reviewed 5 instant car check providers:
Quick verdict: Just too expensive.
These chaps are the Twinings Tea of the car check industry, and they make you pay for it.
Hpi Check is pricey – they are down selling users to their £9.99 Basic car check before upselling their flagship product (that happens to be the one you need!) If you are about to buy a car, Hpi Basic won’t do.
It excludes too much detail like:
Write off details,
Outstanding finance details
If you don’t check these details before you buy a car, you are going blind – not the best thing if you want to look after your cash.
If you opt for HPI limited, ensure you choose their full check. They don’t offer a free HPI check.
Nicely, they offer handy support with an online chat feature.
Quick verdict: Our best of the bunch provider.
CarVeto – This is our number one chosen service for a few reasons. First, reports are clearer than the other providers as they use a simple traffic light design:
If you get easily confused with detailed, metrics packed certificates, you won’t suffer from a CarVeto report.
They are competitively priced too, with their hpi comparative check coming about at £12.50, cheaper than the rest. We also like CarVeto’s customer service, as they responded in 35 minutes.
They offer a Gold vehicle check at £7.50, and Platinum is £12.50. The only difference we found is the latter includes outstanding car finance checks (you’ll need that). They provide a decent free car check, including a road tax check, MOT history, export and basic vehicle specifications.
Quick verdict: If you want to be put to work, it’s good.
Cazana – Our least favourite, mostly cause we got bored and a bit confused. The site isn’t at all intuitive. We had to fish around to get the data we needed, and their upfront data is pretty poor.
Price-wise, Cazana match AA’s vehicle check at £14.99
We didn’t bother with their customer service response times.
No Big Data for me, thanks.
AA Car Check
Quick verdict: Who doesn’t love the AA?
Who doesn’t love the AA?
AA car check – Did you know that HPI underwrites AA’s vehicle data checks? Yup, and it’s cheaper. You can get the exact vehicle information in an HPI check for £5.00 less! Again, AA doesn’t offer a free car check.
AA is one of those age-old trusted brands that we all seem to love, and our relied on instincts ring true with solid UX and customer service.
Quick verdict: Too many ‘buy me now’ buttons.
Car Analytics – Their full vehicle history check is pretty cheap, and they give out a minor free car check. We went on a mobile device to see lots of red ‘upgrade to reveal’ blocks. I guess it’s understandable because they want you to buy but we found it annoying and a bit too sales’y.
Their best feature is a range of valuation estimates for trade, retail and part exchange.
It’s On The Meter concludes.
If you are about to head out and buy a second-hand car, look to get a car data check from any of the providers discussed, especially when buying privately.
In terms of protecting yourself (and your cash), make sure the car you buy is free of outstanding finance, write off, mileage issues and theft. Any of these markers either reduces valuation or even make the purchase illegal.