Why it's important to get a car check

Why it is important to get a car check

A car check can be one of the most important things you do before buying a new used car. Read on to find out why.

Going on the hunt for a secondhand car can be a lot of fun. Browsing classifieds, visiting dealerships and going for test drives can get you all revved up and feeling like a big kid again. After all, a car is one of the most enjoyable purchases you can make (the more flashy and bright red, the better). 

On top of that, it’s easy to fall head over heels with a new four-wheeled friend. A trusty steed made of steel that can whisk you away on many adventures. But looks can sometimes be deceiving.

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You may think you’ve found the car of your dreams (or at least the perfect one to potter around town in). But remember, every used car has at least a few secrets. If you’re not careful, you may unwittingly end up the victim of a used car scam.

That’s why a car check is possibly the most important step in the used vehicle buying process. Skip it, and you may be driving off the lot with more than you’ve bargained for. 

But first things first what is this all-important vehicle check that we’re talking about anyway? And what does it involve?

What is a car check?

Simply put, a vehicle check is an examination of a car’s background conducted to uncover any missing information not provided by the seller. It goes by many names, including reg check, car MOT check, a DVLA car check or HPI check. The most basic kind of vehicle check is an MOT history check. While this provides an overview of a car’s service history, there are a few other things that this doesn’t cover. And while some of this information may genuinely ‘slip through the cracks’ as a car switches hands, some sellers may surreptitiously cover up these details. Such as if a car was stolen, written off or bears outstanding finance in an attempt to make more money. A fully comprehensive car check can reveal all of this and much more.

Why should I get a car check?

Car checks are the great equalizer of the negotiation process: they’ll tell you exactly what you need to know so you can put forward to fairest price possible.

Beyond that, they’ll also help you make the right purchase decision. That’s because some used cars just aren’t worth the money, or more importantly, the hassle they might bring into your life. That hassle could include:

  • Discrepancies in the seller’s description

    Some sellers just aren’t as honest as they should be, Therefore, it’s important to find out if the details provided by the seller don’t match those turned up by the car reg check. A seller may leave out, for instance, the number of past owners. They’ll do this to hide the fact that the car has had numerous issues and thus been passed on by many unsuspecting buyers. Don’t want to be the next one? Then get a car check!

  • Outstanding finance related to the car

    Some cars being sold, may in fact still be owned by the finance company, not the seller. If the seller has chosen to obscure this information, you could suddenly find yourself paying off their loan for them through a higher asking price. Alternatively, you could end up paying a fair asking price only to find out you now have a finance company chasing you for the remaining payments.

  • A recorded theft of the vehicle

    When buying a car, the last thing you’d want to end up as is an accessory to a crime. Unfortunately, this occurs time and time again within the used car market. The consequences are also pretty dire, as you’ll most likely end up losing the car along with the what you’ve paid for it. As such, it’s best in this kind of situation to walk away from the vehicle.

A car check should reveal if a car has been reported as stolen and even if there have been any police complaints against it.

  • Discrepancies in the vehicle’s mileage

    There are, in fact, a few ways devious sellers can fudge the numbers when it comes to a vehicle’s mileage. The most common of these involves ‘clocking’ a car’s mileage by turning back the mileage clock but there’s also hiding the fact that a car has passed the 100 000 mile mark. Again, a good car check will uncover any mileage discrepancies.

  • Write-offs on the car’s record

    This one is important from a safety standpoint. In some cases, a car might be written off by the insurance company or declared as a ‘total loss’. Usually, that means it’s too old or too damaged to drive safely. By not disclosing this kind of information, the seller is setting you up for buying a car you might then need to get rid off.

The problem with free car checks

Now, there are many providers out on the marketplace that will conduct a car check for free. And while it might seem like you’re getting a great deal, there’s a problem with this approach. While you can discover things like MOT history through a basic or free car check, you’ll be hard-pressed to uncover much more than this, such as if a car’s been stolen or written off. On top of that, these free checks do little to offer further insight into future running costs and component failure.

Car Guide – Car checking for the future (not just the past)

Car Guide is a different kind of car checking platform. Instead of just checking a car’s past, we also look to its future to offer you predictions on future cost and performance. Our data bank of over 700 million MOTs allows us to better predict what parts of a specific car might break down based on a number of factors, including make, model, age, mileage, engine, and more. Our platform can also work out the monthly running costs of a vehicle, including fuel cost, road tax, repairs, and cost of servicing and MOT.

All you need to sign up is Google or Facebook account. Just drop in the details of the used car you’re interested in buying (e.g. a number plate or link to the car on Autotrader.co.uk/Motors.co.uk) to get started. Our 30 days access option allows you to conduct unlimited checks while building up a shortlist of vehicles you can consider before buying. We also generate high-quality buyer’s reports that dive into everything from vehicles background and a finance check to its future running and service costs. 

For your own peace of mind, we recommend our instant car check which will highlight a lot of vehicle information, specifically history of the vehicle, such as a number of previous owners, MOT status and history, plate changes, fuel type, engine number engine size and what should the logbook look like. All you need is the registration number, try it today.

£ 0 Nothing to pay

All this data for free:

  • 1 x Free Car Check
  • Full MOT History
  • Imported / Exported
  • Ex-Salvage Register Check
  • MOT Failure Prediction
  • Plate & Colour Changes
  • Date V5c Last Issued
  • Detailed Technical Data
£ 10.99 One off payment

Everything with a free account plus:

  • Unlimited Car Checks!
  • Shortlist & Compare Cars
  • 2 x Buyer's Report which include:
  • Outstanding Finance Check
  • Insurance Write-Off
  • Ex-Salvage Register Check
  • Stolen or Scrapped
  • Valuation
  • Upcoming Repairs & Costs
  • Service Schedules & Costs
£ 6.99 One off payment

Everything with a free account plus:

  • 2 x Car Checks
  • Shortlist & Compare Cars
  • 1 x Buyer's Report which includes:
  • Outstanding Finance Check
  • Insurance Write-Off
  • Ex-Salvage Register Check
  • Stolen or Scrapped
  • Valuation
  • Upcoming Repairs & Costs
  • Service Schedules & Costs

Frequently asked questions

Definitely! If you are buying a used car you should always check the car’s history, whether it has outstanding finance, or it has been reported stolen or written off. Car check could save you time, money and potentially headache should there be anything wrong with the car. Therefore it is the best investment you can make before buying a used car. Car Guide offers the most comprehensive car check currently on the market.
A typical car check will include information like full MOT history, whether the car has outstanding finance, whether it was reported stolen, written off, scrapped, imported/exported, plate and colour changes and number of owners. Car Guide’s car check will give you more information than any other car check currently on the market, as we are using our own machine learning platform to predict which components are likely to cause a problem in the future. What’s more, we offer the most comprehensive car check for the best price. Find out more here.
Basic car check starts from £1.99, but these basic checks don’t tell you much. If you are serious about buying a used car, it is worth investing a bit more to uncover the potential hidden history of a car. Car Guide offers the most comprehensive car check for only £5.99. Check a car now.
Yes you can! There is a number of companies offering free car check but they offer very limited information. The best free car check, offering the most information that many others charge for is Car Guide. Check a car for free now.
The most comprehensive Car Reports Available
We'll show you if the car is a write-off, has outstanding finance and manufacturer safety recalls
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