Last updated: February 16, 2021

Car History Check

By Administrator_1
Published 16:18 pm

Car History Check

In 2013, UK customers alone spent over £360 million on used cars that ended up having serious issues and cost a lot of money to rectify. Although used cars might seem like a cheaper option than buying new, if you’re not careful, you could end up with a fortune to pay for a vehicle that’s been sold to you with misleading information.

Running a quick and easy car history check can help you avoid the mistakes of countless other used car buyers and save you a whole load of stress, hassle, and expenses in the future.

Why do I need a car history check?

A car history check can be completed in minutes and helps you establish whether you’re buying a car from a reputable dealer. These checks can flag any issues the vehicle may have and allow you to quickly check whether there are any discrepancies in what you’re being told vs. the car’s actual condition.

When buying a used car, you’re going to want a reliable vehicle, and won’t want to put down any cash on something that’s going to need to go to the shop as soon as it’s off your drive! There are so many potential problems cars can have, particularly when they’re a few years old, that it’s vital to have as much information as possible before making a purchase.

Even the biggest gear-heads should do their research before buying a car as you never know what might be wrong with it. Checking things like how many previous owners the vehicle has had, when it last went through its MOT (free MOT check), and whether there were any problems, and whether the car is tax-registered are all important points to consider. They can also hugely affect the value of the vehicle.

Even if you think you’re getting a great deal, a poorly maintained and problematic vehicle can end up being far more expensive in the long run. Protect yourself and your investment by running a car history check before you buy to ensure what the dealer is selling is what you’ll actually get.


What will a car history check show?

You can run a few different car history checks, each offering an extra level of information and thoroughness.

If you’re relatively confident that you’re buying from a reputable seller, a free car history check might be sufficient to confirm the details match what’s being offered. If you’re unsure or the first check gives you any reason to be concerned, you might want to consider completing a more thorough assessment for a small fee. These checks will include extra information and go through a more in-depth search of the vehicle’s history so you can be absolutely sure what condition the car you’re buying is in.

When considering a used car purchase, the first stage should always be to run a free car history check. As the name suggests, these checks can be done without any cost to you and are incredibly quick and easy to complete. All you need to run a free car history check is the vehicle registration number for almost instant results, including:

  • The vehicle registration details as the DVLA has them
  • A full history of MOTs
  • The milage history
  • Information regarding whether the vehicle has been exported or imported
  • The vehicle performance data
  • Total running costs of the car
  • Any environmental details

This should give you a good idea of what you’re getting into when looking at a used car, and any aspects you should be concerned about.


The next level up from a free car history check is the basic level assessment. This will provide you with the same information as you’ll find in the free review, as well as the following:

  • Any changes to the number plate of the vehicle
  • The number of previous owners the car has had
  • Any times the vehicle has been registered as changing color
  • Whether the car has previously been scrapped
  • If the vehicle has been VIC inspected
  • A five-band valuation of the vehicle, including a dealer forecourt price, a trade-in price, and a private sale price

This check provides you with a more complete overview of your potential purchase and allows you to compare the car’s details with the vehicle you’re looking to buy.

It’s worth remembering that the previous owner/keeper information will only tell you how many registered owners the car has had, and won’t give you any personal information about who the keepers were.


A full car history check pretty much covers anything you could want to know about a used car, and should be completed before you part with any cash. It will include the information found in the free and basic checks, plus:

  • Information regarding any outstanding finance on the vehicle
  • If the car was a previous write-off, you’ll find the insurance details about this, including the write-off category
  • Any mileage anomalies
  • Whether the car is considered to be a high-risk option

A full car history check will also run checks against police national computer and insurance databases. This can pick up whether the car has been stolen or any other legal or insurance issues with the vehicle.

Running a full car history check before you buy a used vehicle is essential to ensure you’re actually getting a good deal. It will also highlight any potential problems with the car or any differences between what the seller is telling you and what’s actually true, but it will also allow you to check whether the vehicle is legally theirs to sell. Look out to check outstanding finance in particular, as this can cause you a whole load of headaches down the road if not dealt with up-front.

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When should I complete a car history check?

You should always complete a car history check as early as possible. It’s often a good idea to run a free car history check when you first view a used vehicle. It doesn’t cost you anything and can immediately flag if there are any serious problems with the car that might make you reconsider the purchase.

Once you’re confident that you’ve found the right vehicle for you, it’s time to pay for a more thorough checking process. Although this will cost, it will be far less expensive to pay a small fee to ensure the information the vendor has given you is accurate than it will be to deal with serious problems in the future… Particularly when it comes to write-offs, vehicles with outstanding finance, or stolen cars.

What information do I need for a car history check?

You can usually run a quick and easy car history check with just the vehicle registration number, so the seller doesn’t even need to know you’re doing it! This gives you complete control over the situation and ensures you can get wholly accurate and honest information without worries.

If you would like information regarding the vehicle’s previous owners, you can get this information by writing to the DVLA directly. You will need to have a good reason for requesting the data (for example, if you need to contact a previous owner about an accident the car was in), as privacy laws prevent the DVLA from providing personal information to just anyone.

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