Checking a car’s history

Checking a car’s history is essential to save time, money and hassle. Buying a used car without knowing the history can be risky. You may end up with a problem car or lose your money. Make sure checking a car’s history before you buy it is at the top of your list of things to do.

Get a car history check

A car history check from someone like HPI will uncover if a car has a hidden past. A vehicle check will tell you if the car is written off, has an active finance agreement or is recorded as stolen by the police.

Outstanding finance

If you purchase a used car that still has finance owed on it by a previous owner, the finance company would be entitled to seize the car from you despite you having purchased in good faith and being unaware there was finance outstanding. This would result in you not only losing the car but also the purchase money as well.

Write offs

Insurance companies will “write off” a car when it is either badly damaged in an accident, or when a car has been stolen and they have paid out on the theft claim. Although the car may not have been found, the insurers will remain the legal owners of that car. If you buy a car that is a “write off” you may lose both the car and your purchase money.

Stolen cars

If you were unlucky and purchased a stolen car, it would remain the property of the original owner who could reclaim it. Once again you could lose both the car and your money.


Clocking is done by unscrupulous dealers and private sellers to increase the apparent value of a high mileage car. The milometer is tampered with often by re-programming the display with a computer to reduce the true mileage of the car. Clocking affects hundreds of thousands of cars in the UK.

Cut and shut

A “cut and shut” is when two cars that have been declared as “write offs” by the insurance companies are welded together, and then illegally given the identity of one of the “write offs”. Unfortunately there are unethical dealers and they need to be avoided.

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Buying a car

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