The higher the number of previous owners a vehicle has had, the less valuable the vehicle will appear to buyers like you. At least, so the general rule of thumb goes.
There are likely to be classic cars and collectors cars that don’t de-value so much, as these have different stores of value to buyers (in other words, the value of the car isn’t affected by a higher numbers of previous keepers).
But for most people, if you are looking to buy a vehicle that has had multiple previous owners then you may wish to ask the vendor exactly how many appear on the V5 logbook, and verify this against a data check. If the numbers seriously mismatch, then this might be a red flag – and you should consider walking away.
How do I check the number of previous owners?
There are 4 ways to check the number of owners that previously owned the car:
- Check the V5 logbook yourself. Go through and look at the current registered owner.
- Order a car data check for £8.99 and we’ll check the number of keepers for you.
- Check through any previous receipts left in the vehicle as this can often show previous keeper details and names. You could always contact them by post to ask specific questions, although they may not reply.
- Complete form V888 via the DVLA – see advice below.
How do I check other details about previous keepers e.g. address?
Unfortunately, if you are looking for specific information on each previous owner/keeper, for example previous addresses, then (assuming the above don’t work) these can only be requested from the DVLA (more here).
⭐ Why should I pay when it’s freely available?
If you’re buying a car, then the problem is that you’ll be relying solely on the vendor to be truthful in showing you the V5 logbook, and – assuming that it is genuine and not a fraudulent copy – it could of course just be an older copy that the keeper has held on to. This is quite a common ruse among less scrupulous individuals – although you are required to return older log books to the DVLA, a lot of people don’t.
With a vehicle owner check (previous keeper check) from FreeCarCheck for just £8.75, we will verify the exact number of previous owners of any car, van or motorbike, and cross-check it with several sources. This can reassure you that the logbook details are correct or highlight that it may have been stolen or cloned if something is amiss.
We source our data from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) when conducting a car owner check. Our report provides highly accurate information, so you can verify that it matches the information provided by the seller.
The car owner checks at FreeCarCheck come included as standard with all our Premium reports, which is the cheapest fully-featured data check online (compare us here). Why pay more – and why risk being defrauded and losing money for the sake of a few pounds?
💰 How many previous keepers is too many?
This really depends on the age of the vehicle.
For example, if the vehicle is a “classic” and is 25 years old, then it’s obviously much more likely to have a higher number of keepers, than a vehicle that is only 3 years old.
Generally, in the UK, an owner will keep their car for an average of about 71 months, or 6 years, but this is just a guide.
With the advent of vehicle finance and PCP, the average length of ownership per vehicle is decreasing all the time – given that just under 80% of all new cars are sold on PCP finance now in 2020, and the average term is 34 months (just under 3 years), you can expect the average number of keepers to increase generally over time. Why? Because people are keeping their cars for less time than previously.
In days of old, the common method to buy a car was with cash, but now that easy borrowing and low interest rates are all the rage, the car industry has gotten in on the act: so much so that more new cars are sold on finance than are sold by outright purchase – to a factor of 5 to 1!