It’s a common thought that goes through the minds of lots of potential car buyers, you’ve found the perfect car (potentially) and now want to verify its history. Whether it’s been stolen, been written-off, or has any other black marks that the dealer or seller is not telling you about.
HPI Check is the catch-all industry term, but “HPI” is actually a brand name owned by a company called Cap HPI. Our own checks, while not coming under the HPI brand banner as we are in no way connected to HPI, are pretty much identical – and we’re on average about half the price, so why pay more?
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What actually is an HPI Check?
As above, some brand names become synonymous with the actual product – for example, you probably “Google” something rather than search for it. Because of the long history of HPI Checks, this has become the catch-all term for what could be described more broadly as “vehicle checks”. There are many providers of vehicle checks in the UK – including us here at FreeCarCheck! – so if you’re looking to order a check for just £8.75 then start here.
The original HPI Check company has a long history and was actually founded before WW2, where it was an industry-only service that allowed dealers to check for fraud among themselves.
Some dodgy customers were getting hold of cars on hire-purchase finance agreements, and then going to another company to borrow money against it. To stop this fraud it was agreed that each company would share their data with then-called HPI Ltd and that they would all have access to the shared database.
This service was later extended and expanded – and now the HPI Check is a well-known and accepted part of the car buying process. But not everyone is convinced if they should bother…
So are HPI Checks actually worth it?
The answer depends on your attitude to risk – if you think that saving £8.75, when potentially spending thousands of pounds, is a bad investment, then you’re probably more comfortable with a very high level of risk. Most people aren’t though, and for good reason consider HPI Checks to be a worthy purchase.
For only £8.75 FreeCarCheck will verify any vehicle’s history and carry out over 50 checks, so if you’re comfortable risking on average £13,000 – the average price of a used car – to save just £8.75 then that’s of course entirely your choice but you could be left sorely out of pocket if something goes wrong.
Is a Dealer’s HPI Check the only one I need?
The dealer of the vehicle you’re trying to buy may offer an HPI-style check as part of the purchase price. If that’s the case, you’d be silly not to take them up on the offer. As with our own vehicle check reports, an HPI Check will verify the vehicle’s history – subject to the shortcomings we’ve discussed below. And the original HPI Check – again in no way connected to us – have pretty decent reviews on TrustPilot, they must have many satisfied customers!
What about private sellers?
The rules are more relaxed for private sellers, when compared to dealers – the latter normally offering some sort of warranty should things go wrong. So if you’re buying a used car from a private seller, the risks are slightly higher as there is usually no warranty (but of course that should be reflected in the lower purchase price).
So are Vehicle Checks worth it if buying from a private seller? In our opinion, most definitely. There is no way for you to know if the vehicle has, for example, got outstanding finance — do not just take the seller’s word on this. Not only that, but this also applies to export/imports, stolen cars, and so on. If you purchase a stolen car, guess what happens?
What are the drawbacks of an HPI Check?
The data is only as accurate as it has been reported to the DVLA, PND etc.
In other words, if someone has lied, sometimes the data is not accurate – it isn’t possible to check millions of vehicles manually, of course. And don’t forget that if a car has been in an accident but this has not been declared – e.g. it’s not an insurance write-off – then it’s possible that the damage will have been repaired and you won’t know about the incident at all. Learn more about how to tell if a vehicle has been damaged here.
Are HPI Vehicle Checks accurate?
The data that we use here at FreeCarCheck is sourced from reliable and trusted sources like for example the DVLA, the Police National Database (PND), MIAFTR, and a few other agencies and government quangos who charge us to access their data. Of course, the data is only going to be as accurate as to how it has been reported, but according to our own internal reporting it has an accuracy of over 99.9%. In other words, the chances of the data being incorrect are very slim.
✅ What’s included as part of your Vehicle Checks?
For a full list, see here.
But to summarise: If the vehicle has ever been stolen, has been declared a write-off, if it has ever been exported or imported, if it has outstanding finance (never buy a car with outstanding finance – here’s why!), if it has ever been clocked or added to the high-risk register, mileage, paint/colour changes, full tax and MOT history, and much much more. All for only £8.75 (inc VAT)!
Don’t forget – around 1 in 3 of all vehicle checks done via our website have shown at least one negative marker. That means: the vehicle has been declared a write off, or stolen, the mileage has been “clocked” – and so on. Why risk it?