For the majority of people, the two biggest investments we’ll make through life are in our homes and our cars. However, while buying a new car is often an option if your pockets are deep enough, often you’ll find considerably better value in buying second-hand.

Most cars lose between 15% and 35% of their original value by the end of the first year of ownership – with that value dropping to around 50% by the third year. Consequently, the great deals that can be found on used vehicles are often extremely tempting to prospective owners.

However, while buying used can save considerable money, you must take the time to learn about a car’s history, so you’re fully aware of exactly what you’re buying – and that’s where an HPI check can help.

The benefits of performing an HPI check

Used cars can potentially hide a multitude of sins – everything from false mileage readings to vehicles that have been stolen or even cars that are still under hire purchase agreements. An HPI check will quickly assess the validity of a vehicle as a viable purchase and give you detailed information on aspects of its history, including:

Accurate mileage – The HPI check can access over 200 million vehicle records which will let you accurately assess if the mileage has been tampered with

Cars classed as write-offs – By cross-referencing details, the check will show whether the car has ever been classified as a write-off

Details of any outstanding credit – While it’s illegal to sell a car that isn’t owned outright, it can and still does happen. If you buy a car that is still under a credit arrangement, the lender has the right to repossess the vehicle

History of theft – Checks against police databases will show if the vehicle ever been recorded as stolen

Previous owners – The true number of previous owners

Changes to number plates – Has the number plate of the car ever been changed (often an easy way to hide a potentially chequered past)

VIN and chassis number– The recorded VIN and chassis numbers should correspond with those on the vehicle

MOT status – The HPI check will verify whether the MOT certificate you’re being shown is genuine

Vehicles that have been scrapped – The HPI data check shows if a vehicle has previously been noted as scrapped. Just like the write-off classification above, you don’t want to end up lumbered with a car that potentially isn’t safe to be on the road

Status of imported or exported vehicles – Imported cars are typically harder and costlier to repair or insure. Cars noted as exported shouldn’t be for the sale in the UK in the first place

Running costs and price of road tax – An HPI check can be particularly useful for assessing the running costs and price of road tax for older cars subject to the road tax system based on emissions. The check will also provide you with an estimation of fuel costs over 12,000 miles.

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