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What is a Car History Check?

Buying a used car? Before handing over your hard earning cash you really need to spend some time looking at the car. A physical inspection is one thing but a car history check is a whole different area that provides plenty of information. Car history checks provide you with insight into the a car’s history based on a whole host of data points.

The best thing about car checks is that they are free. You can ultimately get a basic free check from the official UK GOV website, but its limited, or you can opt for a data provider who generally offers some additional vehicle data that the GOV site does not.

The importance of getting a car check is incredibly high, otherwise you run the risk of buying a car that could have outstanding finance or has been reported stolen – all of which you had no idea. We discuss the importance of getting a car history check and get into the details of what a car history check is.

What is a car history check?

From the moment a car is legally registered for the UK road’s it starts to gather a history. From MOT’s to keeper history, everything is document which is where the car’s history comes from. As you can imagine there can be a lot of information gathered from this data to determine if the car is as described or if it’s hiding a secret.

Generally speaking, a car history check is started by simply adding the vehicle’s VRM. The system will then run an instant check and deliver you a report right away. No waiting around for hours or days for someone to compile this information, which is great if you happen to see an amazing offer.

So what does a free check include:

  • Road tax expiration date
  • MOT expiration date + fail/advisory details
  • Date of registration
  • SORN status (Statutory Off Road Notice)
  • Vehicle Spec: colour, engine size, year of manufacture, CO2 emissions

This is plenty of information to get started with, even if it’s just a preliminary look at the spec it can help to point out anything that may be curious.

You do have the option of paying (£7.99) for a total car check which basically provides you with a lot of car history information. This data generally includes information such as outstanding finance, reported stolen, imported/exported, vehicle valuation bands, and much more.

These premium checks are well worth it and a fraction of the price that they used to cost. We all know someone that has bought a car assuming that it would be fine only for it to become a nightmare. A MOT fail and advisory review alongside valuation checks can really help you determine what is a fair value for the vehicle, without this information you just assume that all is well and put yourself into a position where a car could be a financial headache.

Why is knowing a car’s history so vital?

The low-cost car check is a fraction of the potential costs that might be needed due to a car that was not looked after but you never know. Imagine you found a car that you really love, you are blindly in love and are about to commit. A quick car history check shows you that each MOT was failed and had a lengthy list of advisories. Does this sound like a car that’s going to be fun to own and drive? Probably not and ultimately without having any clue of a car’s history, you put yourself at risk of buying a lemon.

Combining a vehicle inspection with a vehicle check really helps to ensure that the car is solid and everything as should be, we are not looking for any nasty surprises!

Consider these interesting UK motoring related statistics:

  • 1 in 3 cars has a hidden history
  • 74 are cars identified as stolen on average every day
  • 1,771 a day are an insurance write-off
  • 1 in 3 has outstanding debt
  • The average amount of finance on all car is £11k
  • 1 in 16 has a mileage discrepancy

Using a car history check service

Using an online car checker platform is the easiest way to find out a lot about a car’s history. It is done instantly and delivered to you electronically so no matter where you are, you can simply run a car check. Most car history checking platforms have a number of offers: free, medium tier and premium history check.

The information that you can get from a car checking platform includes:

  • Outstanding finance or loans
  • Insurance write-offs
  • Mileage discrepancies
  • Whether the vehicle’s been scrapped
  • Whether it’s been stolen
  • V5C and VIN matching
  • Previous owners

This data is also gathered through various providers which include the DVLA, the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders, the Police, Association of British Insurers, and finance companies. There are generally other bits of data too such as running costs, number plate changes, as well as multi-band car valuation which is a great way to know what you should either be asking for or buying for.

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