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Check if a vehicle has been stolen, written-off, has any outstanding finance & more

How Does a Free Vehicle History Check Helps Used Car Buyers?

Buying a new vehicle is a straightforward deal where you just need to examine the features you require according to your budget.

However, purchasing a used car is certainly not that simple. You have to check the condition of the vehicle’s exterior, interior, engine, suspension, battery, brakes, and the list goes on. Your lack of awareness can cost you thousands of pounds by the time you recognise you are already very late.

The question is, what’s one thing you can do to ensure you buy a car without any fuss. Run a free vehicle History Check!

Is it that simple? Let’s find out:

Key Points

  • A vehicle history check makes it easier to buy a used car. It allows you to find out most of the hidden things about the vehicle.
  • In case you purchase a vehicle without seeing the car history report, you risk losing the car and money.
  • Different checks provide you with different valuable information. You must know how each of these helps you identify the scams.

Table of Contents

What is a car history check?

In simple words, a vehicle history check reveals the historical information of a particular vehicle. The report includes everything that happened in the vehicle’s lifecycle. From the day it landed on the driveway of its first owner to the time you are purchasing it.

A car history check is basically a bundle package; it contains information about a vehicle’s outstanding finance, its write-off & scrap history, number plate changes, police stolen data, number of car ownersit exchanged, its mileage history, and so on.

How to check car history?

Buying a used car is as valuable as buying a home. Without proper research, you may fall victim to bitter experiences that can also cost you a lot of money.

Used cars are purchased either through a dealer, a private party, online or auctions. Due to the advancement of technology, most buyers now prefer the online mode of car purchasing.

But it is highly recommended that buyers always purchase the used car by seeing it in the metal and after conducting a thorough vehicle inspection.

Should You Get Free or Paid Used Car History?

We find many people searching how to check car mot history for free or how to check used car history for free. Well, you can definitely get the full MOT history without spending a penny, along with other vital information from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). The MOT check brings you MOT status, its due date, as well as advisory and failure notices.

Free Car Check

Alternatively, you can run a free car check online at The Auto Experts to obtain a vehicle’s complete MOT history, its tax status, mileage, age, running cost, performance figures, and other crucial details.

All these facts are good to get initial general information about a vehicle; however, they aren’t adequate. We mean a free vehicle check does not uncover hidden details such as accident history, outstanding finance, insurance write-off category, owner’s record, and so on. The best way to find these specifics is to run a paid car history check.

Paid Car Check

A paid vehicle check is one such report, which can save you thousands of pounds in a vehicle purchase. How? Well, if you buy a vehicle with a stolen marker or unsettled finance, the UK authorities will seize it. You will be left empty-handed. Similarly, a car with a written-off/ scraped status or mileage anomaly is worth a lot less than a standard car of the same make and model. 

A paid car check includes information about “Outstanding finance, car’s accident & write-off, stolen, flagged as ‘High-Risk,’ mileage inconsistency, vehicle owner check, number plate change history, colour change history, scrap check, VIN match check, vehicle evaluation, and more.” It costs anywhere between £9 and £20 in the UK.

How to check car accident history?

You won’t find any website online that can disclose a car’s accidental history. Nevertheless, you can follow any of the two ways to get some idea:

  1. Car Inspection
  2. Car Check

Car inspection: In this assessment, the experts check almost all elements of a vehicle, including body exterior, engine compartment, electrical controls, interior, and luggage compartments, front and rear suspension, front and rear underframes, steering, clutch, transmission, exhaust system, fuel system, brakes, wheels, tyres, etc. The engineers provide you with a report, which explains flaws in each of the inspected components. With complete diagnostic information handy, you would know the parts that have suffered harm in an accident.

Car Check: A car history check report includes a column that tells if the insurer had written off the vehicle. You should know an insurance firm writes off a vehicle when:

  • They find the car badly damaged or
  • The expense of overhauling outdoes the worth of the vehicle

Influenced by the intensity of the harm, the insurer declares a write-off category, namely Cat A (scrap only), Cat B (break for parts), Cat S (structurally damaged but repairable), or Cat N (Not structurally damaged, repairable).

As you can see, the Cat A and Cat B vehicles are not roadworthy, so they got to land in the scrapyard as per law. However, Cat S and Cat N cars are safe to drive after proper repairs. People buy these vehicles because they are cheaper than their non-damaged, regular variants.

If you want to take this road, understand that the vehicle has suffered severe blows in an accident. The damages can surface at any time if the repairs you have carried out aren’t professional.

That said, even the insurance write-off check is not enough to detect accidental damage. It is because many car owners do not report accidents to their insurers and make repairs on their own. Therefore, only the reported accidents get an entry in the Motor Insurers Anti-Fraud and Theft Register (MIAFTR).

Hiding accidents from your insurer is illegal, but unfortunately, it is an everyday occurrence here in the UK. The best way to spot an accidental car is by taking the help of a professional mechanic.

How to check car finance history?

When someone finances a vehicle, the finance house or credit agency registers it. Therefore, to check car finance history, you need to contact the lender or the credit firm. Bear in mind; you must follow their rules and pay them to get the info about a car loan.

Another way to find a car’s financial history is to take an outstanding finance check. Usually, a part of a full car history check, this check tells in ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ if the vehicle carries an unpaid loan. Additionally, you get to know the date of the finance contract, the type of agreement (PCP, HP, or lease), the investment company that owns the car, and their contact number.

The car data providers usually use credit firms like Experian Ltd. to obtain car finance details.  

What is plate change history check?

While buying a used car, checking plate change history is necessary. Yes, we know people change licence plates for various legal reasons, but we cannot rule out the possibility of fraud.

An unscrupulous seller might have a plate swapped to hide the vehicle’s identity. It could be stolen or have financial issues.

When you go for a plate change check online, the system asks for a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) or chassis number. In reply, it tells you if the vehicle has a plate change history. If yes, the report will mention the plate number(s).

You can order a full car reg check to find the outstanding problems on the old licence plate. Dishonest sellers usually change the plate to conceal the vehicle’s stolen past or finance disputes. When you run a car registration check, you get to know about the following:

  • Full MOT History
  • Tax status
  • Export/ import status
  • Cloned past
  • Number plate changes
  • Colour changes
  • Mileage Anomalies
  • High-Risk issues
  • Police Stolen
  • Outstanding Finance
  • Destruction
  • Scrapped status

How to check owner history of a car?

Before we answer this question, understand that a vehicle’s keeper and owner can be different persons/companies. The keeper is the one who keeps the car and is accountable for its taxes, insurance, MOT etc. On the other hand, an owner is a person or firm that has bought the vehicle and owns it in the true sense of the word.

Bear in mind; if you are buying a car on finance (which you should not unless you settle it with the financial institution), you cannot own it unless you pay the remaining amount on it.

Again, to get the owner’s history of a vehicle, you need to run a car owner checkwhich actually is a keeper check. No data check in the UK provides information about a vehicle’s owner. It only tells how many keepers a car has had.

A car can substitute its keepers without switching its ownership. However, when a vehicle sells, it has to change its proprietor.

So, the question arises, how to find who owns a particular car. For this, you have two options:

  1. Request the seller for the genuine invoice/receipt of the trade
  2. Ask the DVLA if you think you have a valid reason

How to check car service history online?

As a car buyer in the UK, you cannot get the car service history online. Only the legal owner of the vehicle can request their car’s service history. So, you have to ask the seller for the service details to find out how well maintained the car is.

Alternatively, you can request an MOT check from the DVLA or any car history check service to get MOT history. This report encompasses advisory and failure comments. The report gives details on the components, which crashed or had secondary issues during the examination. While it is not a service history report, it does explain how well the owner has taken care of it.


Buying a car, be it new or used, requires you to conduct some decent amount of research. There are a variety of resources available online as well as offline. Combining your research with our above-given suggestions will certainly help you strike the right deal. We have included all the major parameters that lead you to the right decision. Let us know in the comment section, if we have missed anything. We would love to hear from you.