We love things for free, hence the name! And so we’ll share with you here a little-known (and free) method to quickly check any UK vehicle to see if it’s been in an accident. There are no catches, it’s free.
All you will need is the VRM (i.e. the vehicle number plate) and the approx. mileage of the car or bike you want to check – it must be a UK registered vehicle, but private plates will work too.
What does “been in an accident” mean in this case?
Sadly it isn’t possible to be completely 100% sure if a vehicle has been involved in an accident in the past. Many drivers do not declare it with their car insurance companies.
In other words, if there is no insurance record, then there’s very few ways of knowing – it depends on how good the repairs were.
Most insurers will try to repair a vehicle if the damage is insignificant. You can read about the type of grading that insurance companies do here.
However if it has been declared then it will have been logged – and our in-depth data checks look for several of these flags (the free method below works, to an extent, though). If you aren’t sure about these gradings – for example “CAT D” or the new “CAT S” then we have a handy guide available on the link above.
🔥 How to do a FREE, basic insurance write-off check
- Head over to Auto Trader and click on Sell My Car: https://www.autotrader.co.uk/sell-my-car
- Enter the vehicle registration mark (VRM) that you want to check.
- For the above test we have just assumed the mileage to be “100,000”. It doesn’t matter too much what you put here. Enter anything reasonable, and click Next Step.
- The below page will then open. To the right-hand side, you will see under “Your Advert” in the sidebar, it clearly says this vehicle is a CAT N insurance write-off.
- So there you have it! If you aren’t sure what this term means, then read our guide here.
If you don’t see anything in this right sidebar then it’s possible that the vehicle has no adverse insurance history or write-offs.
Related article: Must a dealer declare if a vehicle has been in an accident?
Is this foolproof and completely accurate?
Be advised that this method isn’t guaranteed and is meant for testing purposes only.
In other words, it may not be accurate. If you want a full in-depth car data check covered by a £30,000 data guarantee then FreeCarCheck.co.uk offer that for less than a tenner – the cheapest price online – start here.
Does a dealer / seller have to declare if a car has been in an accident?
In the UK, the law is quite clear – if the seller is a dealer then yes – but only if they are aware that there is a damage marker against the vehicle. Dealers aren’t always aware that a vehicle has been in an accident. Like everyone else, they only go on what the records show.
If you want to check the vehicle manually for damage yourself, then we have a handy guide here too.
Private sellers on the other hand are NOT obligated by law to tell you about any damage, so it’s strongly advised to do your own car check. For the one-off price of £9.95 we’ll check the full write-off and insurance history of any UK vehicle – car, bike or van (plus loads more – such as outstanding finance, scrapped check, and so on).