Why you MUST Do a HPI Check on a Car Before You Buy It

Why you MUST Do a HPI Check on a Car Before You Buy It

Why you MUST Do a HPI Check on a Car Before You Buy It

Before you even leave your house to go and buy a car there is a critical check that must be conducted, a check that can potentially save you thousands of pounds of losses.

We are talking about a HPI check.

So What must you do a HPI check on a car before you buy it?

A HPI check will disclose critical information about the history of a vehicle, for example, if it has ever been recorded as being damaged in an accident, if it has any outstanding finance or if it is stolen or been scrapped;

Let’s talk more about an HPI check

What is a HPI Check

HPI stands for Hire Purchase Inspection, for a fee a report can be purchased which discloses the ownership history of a pre-owned vehicle. HPI reports can be purchased from a multitude of companies who usually offer tiered packages such as ‘standard’, ‘silver and ‘gold’ level. The difference between packages usually relates to the amount of information that each check will produce.

How Much Does a HPI Check Cost

Prices can range from £2 for a basic checkup £25 for more a more thorough check depending on the provider, all basic checks will tend to include information such as stolen or scrapped reports on cars and the more expensive checks tend to reveal extra useful information such as outstanding finance reports.

The company we usually use for all our HPI checks is called Total Car Check, they offer a great service and affordable price. A gold check which is what we recommend usually covers almost all of the information you would need is priced at £8.99 per check which is somewhat cheaper to other comparable places such as Autotrader who price their service at £14.95 & the AA who also charge a similar £14,99.

Why Would you Want to do a HPI Check

A HPI report offers peace of mind to the buyer and is usually the ultimate seal of approval once you have completed all other required checks. When buying a vehicle we suggest you don’t always rely on the information in front of you and always double check every piece of information. From our own personal experiences, we have come across situations where the seller has either purposely or accidentally failed to disclose critical information,

Let’s take a look at what information we mean:


Although we have never personally experienced this, there have been occasions where people have sold stolen vehicles to innocent unsuspecting buyers. The result of this would be the vehicle in question would eventually be found and recovered by the Police and returned to the insurance company.

What this means for you is that you would most likely lose out on the money you paid for the vehicle. A HPI checks the vehicle across  national databases to establish if there are any stolen reports onto the vehicle, If there is, Stay Away.


Short for vehicle identification number, a unique code used by car manufacturers to identify an individual vehicle. The HPI report will usually provide you with the last 4 digits of the VIN.as registered with the DVLA.

You should cross-reference this with the VIN displayed on the car to ensure it is the same vehicle.

There have been occasions in the past where people have attempted to sell cars with stolen engines belonging to other cars which will display a different VIN number.

Number of Owners

The HPI report will display how many previous owners there have been on the vehicle and this information will be lifted from the DVLA records. We have had personal experience with this where a seller has listed a car for sale with only two previous owners, however upon completing a HPI check we have discovered the vehicle has, in fact, has 8 previous owners. A higher number of owners can have a bearing on the resale value of a vehicle, however, a high number of owners in a relatively short period of time can be an indication to some issues with the vehicle which is perhaps why owners have been getting rid of it quick. It’s easy to see why someone would want to hide this.

Damage Recorded

We have had a number of previous instances where we have completed all our pre-checks on a car, everything seems fine and the seller seems genuine. We then go onto do a HPI check on the car only to find the car is damage recorded! The usual response from the seller to this is a) they didn’t know (which can be genuine) b) they forgot to mention it on the add (which is the most common answer) the issue with this is that if you purchase the car and realise this information after it becomes difficult to get your money back as there are far fewer rights covering private sales on cars.

A vehicle can be category listed for a few reasons, the main ones being:

Stolen Recovered

As the title suggests, the vehicle would have been stolen at some stage and then recovered, there come have been slight damage to the car during this process. The vehicle was repaired by the insurance provider and marked down to suggest this fact

Accident Damage

Usually split into a few different categories depending on the level of damage sustained to the car. However, the car is usually repaired professionally before being put back into the used car market. These care carry damage markers with them which are discoverable by HPI checks

Here is a great article from RAC which cover all the different types of categories


The bottom line with these types of cars are:

They are not worth the same amount of money as ‘normal’ undamaged cars, are they still worth buying? Perhaps, on a case by case basis, however, a category listed car should not be sold under false pretences. It’s up to you to know exactly what you are buying.

Why you MUST Do a HPI Check on a Car Before You Buy It

Outstanding Finance

This one is another big one that is not often disclosed.

This tends to be the easier on newer slightly more expensive cars, the key to take away here is that the finance remains with the CAR, not the seller.

So this means if you purchase a vehicle with outstanding finance that you are not aware of you will now become responsible for maintaining this finance. The car does not belong to you even if you have paid the seller, the car belongs to the finance company

It’s not uncommon for cars to have finance, however, you first need to be aware that finance exists and secondly ensure the finance has been fully cleared (with proof) before you take the car on.

A HPI will clearly display if there is outstanding finance on the car along with the name of the finance company and the Policy number.

How to do a HPI Check

Go to www.totalcarcheck.com

  • Enter the Reg of the car you wish to conduct the check on
  • Select the level of the check you require (We recommend the Gold check as this will provide you outstanding finance information if applicable)
  • Pay by either car or Paypal
  • The report will be emailed to you as a PDF document almost instantly

There may be an occasion where the report prompts to call a phone number to get more information about any outstanding finance. This is perfectly normal as sometimes finance information is not always up to date on the phone. If you do get this message we strongly advise you to make the call and obtain the relevant information before proceeding to buy the car.

We recommend you print the report off and keep this for your records.


Doing a HPI check should not be optional, it’s critical. For the initial small outlay, you can save yourself several thousands of pounds on a  bad investment. We hope you understand from this article why it’s important to go into each car deal armed with every bit of information you can get hold of to help you make a sound judgement.

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