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What is a HPI check and why is it important?

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When its time to change your car, one of the most enjoyable parts of the process is searching for your new vehicle. Browsing the online car classifieds, or taking a walk around the dealership, the many different possibilities available to you can really stir your imagination. And when you find that perfect little motor, it’s easy to get over-excited and rush to buy it, just in case someone else falls it in love with it like you have.

But looks can be deceiving. And what might appear to be the perfect little motor, could in fact be hiding some nasty little secrets. So how can you be sure that the car you’re buying won’t cause you a massive headache as soon as you’ve paid for it? The answer is a HPI check.

What is a HPI check?

A HPI check is a way to examine the background of your car for anything in its history that can easily be obscured by someone selling their car. While you can check a car’s MOT history online examine the service history or any dealer stamps in the handbook, there are some things that are not easy to uncover.

HPI are a company first established in 1938, created by six of the main financial providers at the time to help combat the growing amount of fraud in the car sales industry. While other vehicle checks are available, HPI are seen as the industry standard.

Conducting a vehicle check, such as a HPI check, will reveal some important details that should give you pause before going through with the purchase.

Is the seller describing the car accurately?

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A HPI check will search your car’s details on the DVLA database. This will come back with the exact make, model, and features of the car as registered to the DVLA. Engine size, number of doors, the vehicle’s age and also the number of former owners. So if the details don’t match the seller’s description, you can find out before its too late. A large number of former owners could suggest that the car has many issues and has been passed on again and again to the next unsuspecting buyer!

Has the car been stolen?

Buying a car from a private seller or a used car dealership, the last thing you need is to end up being an accessory to a crime. Not only will it cause you a lot of problems, you could end up losing both the car and the money you paid for it. The HPI vehicle check will check police databases to see if the car has been reported stolen. It will also let you know if there are any outstanding police complaints against it.

If the HPI check does bring up these issues, then it’s probably best to walk away. If you feel comfortable, you can ask the seller to see if they are aware. But it will save you a lot of hassle to just try a different car.

Is the car still on a finance package?

The HPI check will also let you know if the car is still being paid for on a finance package. Legally, this means that the car is still owned by the finance company, and not the seller. If you purchase a car that still has payments remaining, then these payments will be transferred to you.

If you have paid for the car, you will have probably paid something close to the car’s value. Any outstanding finance payments means you could be paying for a percentage of the car again. If the seller has not been clear about this, then you will end up paying a lot more for the vehicle. So a HPI check will alert you to this potential issue. Then you should ask yourself, ‘Why didn’t the seller make this clear to begin with?’.

Is the mileage accurate?

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A car’s value is affected by its mileage. But unscrupulous sellers can use devious methods to change the mileage. Not just by ‘clocking’ the car’s mileage, but also by not revealing if the car has passed the 100,000 miles mark. The HPI check will tell you if the car’s mileage is genuine, based on MOT records.

Has the car been written off?

The HPI check will take a look at the car’s records to see if it has been written off or declared a total loss by insurers. If it has, the car could be potentially dangerous and a threat to you and whoever drives the car, as well as other drivers on the road. This can be hidden as if the car has passed an MOT and then been written off, then it won’t be apparent to you until you come to take your next MOT or get stopped by the police.

Sometimes, a car will be written off by an insurance company as it is too old and the cost of repairing the damage is more than the value of the car. When the damage is cosmetic, you can have the car checked by the DVLA to see if it is still roadworthy. But this costs money, and is only worth doing if the damage is done while you own the car, not when buying it as a new vehicle.

Is the number plate correct?

If a car has a personalised number plate, it might be difficult to accurately check the car’s details, especially if the seller has no record of this in the car’s history file. The HPI check will let you know if the number plate has been changed and what the original plate is, so you can get a more accurate valuation.

Creditplus and HPI checks

When you finance a car with Creditplus, we will conduct a HPI check for you, so you can have peace of mind that the car you are financing is exactly as it should be. We only work with RAC Approved, so you can be sure that when it comes to finding the perfect car, you only have to think about what’s right for you. 

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