Car Data Check
I hate to be the bearer of bad news but just because a HPI report (or similar) shows a vehicle as being all clear it doesn’t actually mean it is. Before I go into detail let me briefly cover what these checks actually are and where the check can let you down I will add the reason in starting with a However…
There are many companies offering a car data check these days however not all offer the same standard of check or offer any type of guarantee should things go wrong after you purchase the car. Some of these are free and some just a couple of quid – This is an ideal example of you get what you pay for.
The term HPI Check is a registered trademark of HPI Limited. HPI Check has become the term commonly used to refer to a used vehicle check. HPI Check were the first company in the UK to provide an hpi car data check.
Hpi stands for Higher Purchase Investigation and was originally designed to help prevent multiple loans being taken out on the same vehicle.
Experian also offer a similar standard of car data check called Autocheck. These are two of the biggest names when it comes to vehicle information and there are various things they look out for are with the more notable being:
This looks to see if the vehicle has ever been reported stolen during its lifetime. If a record does exist it isn’t always a reason to panic as there are cases where a car is reported stolen and subsequently found with no damage but has simply not had the record removed from the check.
However… There is nothing to stop a thief stealing a car, possibly along with the relevant documents, and selling it on before the owner even realises it has gone. Maybe they were on holiday or in hospital. A HPI check at this stage will show no warnings at all.
This shows up any outstanding finance on the vehicle. When someone takes out a finance agreement on a car the details are recorded such as when it was taken out, for how long and with which finance company.
Do not purchase a car with this type of finance showing – although sometimes the finance may have been just paid off and the finance company may not have amended the details. A call to the finance company should resolve this.
Most car dealers purchase their stock vehicles with a ‘Stocking Loan’ and this will also show on the check. Again nothing to worry about as not many car dealerships have the cash available to pay for every car they have on the forecourt therefore they tend to purchase their cars using a short term loan which shows as a ‘Stocking Loan’ or similar term.
This record is removed once you purchase the car from them although for your own peace of mind you can always request this in writing.
However… If somebody has only just purchased a car on finance (possibly using fraudulent details) and then sells it straight away a HPI Check will not necessarily have this very recent information and therefore come back as all okay. You may never even realise until the finance company comes looking for their car because payments have been missed
Insurance Write Off
If a car has been declared as written off it will show in one of four categories:
Category A – The vehicle has not been repaired as it was deemed too damaged and unsafe to be repaired. The whole vehicle, i.e. mechanical, electrical, interior and exterior, and structural, must be crushed.
Category B – The vehicle has not been repaired following significant damage. It was deemed too damaged to be repairable however parts may have been salvaged. The bodyshell must be crushed.
Category C – When the cost of repairing its damage is more than the pre-accident value of the car
This usually applies to vehicles with significant damage and where the cost of repairs does not warrant getting it done. It can be sold for repair but must have VIC (Vehicle Identity Check) inspection before returning to the road.
Category D – Most likely to be minor or relatively easily repairable damage. In this case the insurance company has made the decision to write this car off sometimes on the wishes of the insurer.
There are usually a few Cat C and Cat D vehicles available for sale and although they come at a cheaper price the actual details of the damage or quality of repair are never usually known making them a potential risk.
However… Take the scenario of Mr Dodgy driving his car into a wall caving the front end in. He hasn’t renewed his insurance so doesn’t claim. Instead his trainee panel beater mate gets the car looking right(ish) and Mr Dodgy sells it to some unsuspecting customer who has just had it confirmed that the car is HPI clear!
To summarise yes it is always good to perform some kind of car data check but also get an independent inspection done.
Better still pay a little bit more and buy from a reputable dealer who will perform all these checks as part of the service and are still liable should you discover down the line that they missed something.