Do I need a vehicle history check?

With a third of all used cars having something to hide, finding out about the history of a potential purchase could be vitally important.

Words by: Last updated: 3rd October 2017
Finding out the history of any car you’re thinking of buying is crucial.

HPI says a third of the cars they check have something to hide, and in the worst case, this hidden history could result in the car being seized, without you getting a penny back from what you paid for it.
What information will a vehicle check show?
A typical check uses information from a variety of sources, including the police, DVLA, insurance companies, and finance houses. Through this, the check can show if the car has ever been reported stolen, written off, or scrapped. It can also confirm the car’s correct mileage, whether there is any outstanding finance, and how many previous owners the car has had. And it can reveal if the car was imported, or has had any plate or colour changes.
What could happen if the car has outstanding finance, or has been stolen?
If the vehicle you're looking at has outstanding finance on it, the finance company (who own the car) could seize it if you bought it, but it's not necessarily the end of the world. By talking to both the seller and the finance company, you could find a way to clear the finance off the vehicle before buying it, debt-free.

However, if you buy a car that has been stolen, the police could take it off you, as it’s technically someone else’s property. And, if that does happen, you won’t get your money back.
Vehicle checks on Auto Trader
Every car for sale on Auto Trader has a free five point background check, which covers whether the car is stolen, has been scrapped, written off, imported, or exported. You can see that information towards the end of every advert.

For peace of mind, you can upgrade this to a full check for £14.95. If a vehicle has been written off, scrapped or is listed as stolen, Auto Trader will give you another vehicle check for free. There's also up to £30,000 of data guarantee is case of any inaccuracies.

A full vehicle check covers 26 points, including the number of previous owners, the risk of third-party trace, recorded mileage, along with lots of specification information and vehicle data.

In 2016, one in ten cars were recorded as an insurance write off, one in eight had outstanding finance to pay, and 88,595 vehicles were reported as stolen. So for many, it's worth the cost.