Car History Checks – Should You Get One?

A car history check is perhaps the most vital part of the due diligence process that an interested buyer can do when buying a used car. Otherwise known as a vehicle history check as you can also check motorbikes and vans, as well as classic cars. So let’s try to explain what such a vehicle check actually is (and what it is not).

Any UK-registered vehicle can have its history checked. Whether it’s SORNed or on the road, you can check out its history for free.

Note that some checks will not be free (whichever company you choose). Check out our sample Premium car report here if you’d like to see a demo of all the vehicle checks we provide.


What is included in a car history check?

All of the following should be included in any history check you order:

  1. Full MOT history
  2. VED/Tax check – i.e. if road fund is valid
  3. Stolen / police stolen
  4. Scrapped and Write-off Checks
  5. Finance – i.e. if any outstanding
  6. Import & Export check
  7. Cloned plate check
  8. …and loads more!

All you need to do is enter the VRM (the UK number plate, such as AB12 ABC). Get started here – we can also check private plates and Irish-style plates instantly, it only takes a second to fully check all the various sources. Which brings us on to the next question.


Which databases are used to look up vehicle history?

Here at FreeCarCheck, we check all of the following trusted government sources as part of every Premium report:


Do I actually need a car history check?

If you want to check if a used vehicle has ANY of the following then the only way to do so, is to buy a history report. The DVLA, for example, do not give out this information for free (as they generate income from re-selling it).

  • Stolen status
  • Write-Off History
  • Outstanding Finance
  • Colour Changes
  • Vehicle owner changes/keeper numbers


A quick word on “FREE” car checks. It’s in our name, so we try to provide as much as possible.  Many people think that there is such as thing as ‘free HPI report‘ – sadly they are mistaken. It just isn’t possible to give everything away for free:  the various databases where we source our vehicle data will charge money to access it; they do not provide it for free, so how can anyone else?

There are several less than reputable websites around selling HPI or Vehicle checks but we cannot vouch for them. If you’re concerned about using a particular vehicle check website our advice is always the same: look for reviews first.

Here at FreeCarCheck we try to provide as much as possible for free. But if you need to upgrade to a full Premium report then our price is fixed – only £9.95 (inc. VAT) for the full report – this includes EVERY check needed when you’re buying a vehicle. Don’t risk buying a car without checking its history first.


Can’t I get this information for free?

You can get some basic information from the website directly here. For example, since 2015 it has been possible to obtain any UK vehicle’s MoT history and tax (VED) status on the GOV.UK website.

The problem is, this information can be useful in some circumstances, but it is by no mean s exhaustive.

In other words, it may not be quite what you’re looking for — if you’re buying a used vehicle then it’s imperative that you check much more than just the MOT and VED status. FreeCarCheck think that it’s a great government initiative to open up so-called ‘Big Data’ and make this basic information free to access.

But don’t forget, we also provide this exact same data (plus lots more) in our free vehicle reports.


You really don’t want to be driving around in a stolen car like this!

What happens if I buy the vehicle without an HPI check?

Our Premium report – the most in-depth on the market – costs only £9.95 including VAT, per vehicle. Why you would buy something as expensive as a car without first checking the history? Ultimately it could be the most expensive purchase you make for the new few years; it’d become a whole lot more expensive if you have to hand it back.

If you’re concerned about what exactly ‘HPI Checks’ or ‘HPI Clear’ mean, then we have created this article to explain the differences.

Be aware that if you buy a car with outstanding finance, or that has previously been stolen (whether reported stolen or not at time of purchase), you will very likely have to hand the vehicle back. There are no guarantees in UK law that suggest you will get a refund of the purchase price if that does happen to you. Sad, but true.

The number of stolen cars on UK roads — that is, driving around right now — is estimated to be as high as 1 in 7 cars in some areas! Vehicle theft is much more rampant than most people realise.

So in other words, you may very well be out of pocket if you buy a stolen vehicle – knowingly or otherwise. Is it worth the risk?


Given that around 1 in 3 of vehicle checks shows hidden history – can you really afford NOT to buy a HPI Check style vehicle report?


Note that there is no such thing as a free history check – that is, if you’re looking for the full set of checks, it won’t exist. But if you’re just looking for a basic check, we don’t charge a penny (hence why we’re called FreeCarCheck!).

You won’t find a completely free and in-depth vehicle check anywhere, but if you’re looking to purchase an instant Premium check then here’s a small sample of what’s included:

  • Stolen check
  • Write-off check (e.g Cat D)
  • Outstanding finance check
  • Import check
  • Export check
  • Grey import check
  • Scrapped check
  • MOT history check
  • VED (Tax) check
  • Number of previous owners
  • Colour change(s) / resprays
  • …and loads more!


If you want to just do a quick FREE vehicle check, then our basic Free service includes all this:

  • MOT Check
  • MOT History
  • VED Check
  • Mileage Check
  • Export Check

In time we hope to add further checks, such as for ex-taxi vehicle history. If you would like us to add any other type of verification or check, please do get in touch.

View the full history of any UK vehicle now

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