What is in my HPI report?

You know you need to check the history out on the car you're looking at, but what exactly should you be looking for, and will HPI be able to supply this data?

Around 7 million used vehicles are sold each year, and 1 in 3 of those potentially have a hidden history (based on 1 in 3 checks done by HPI in 2010, which revealed a hidden history) - that means over 2.3 million vehicles could be hiding something from you. So what sort of hidden history should you be looking out for?

Does it still belong to someone else?

Lots of people buy vehicles using some form of finance from a finance company. Standard finance agreements work in a similar way to mortgage agreements - the lender/finance company own the vehicle until the debt is settled. That means the person selling the car may be the registered keeper, but NOT the owner of the vehicle. That will continue to be the finance company until the loan agreement has been paid off.

Not all check providers have finance information, so make sure you use one who does have finance information. 1 in 4 vehicles checked with HPI in 2010 still had finance on them, so it remains a significant risk for used car buyers. If the loan is defaulted on, then the finance company could seize back the vehicle in lieu of payment.

HPI's origins are with finance companies and finance agreements so you can be assured that we will have the most comprehensive finance information available. If the vehicle you're looking at still has finance on it, it's not the end of the world. You need to speak with both the seller and the finance company to find the best way to clear the finance off the vehicle, and make sure you end up purchasing the vehicle, debt free.

Are the Police looking for it?

If the vehicle has been stolen, then it technically belongs to someone else and the Police will take it from you. It means you risk losing both the car and the cash you paid for it, which could put you seriously out of pocket. A quick check with HPI could tell you all you need to know about it's stolen status. We uncover more than 19 vehicles a day which are recorded as stolen, so it's definitely worth researching to make sure you're not buying someone else's property.

An additional risk with stolen vehicles is that they are often cloned - disguised as another vehicle already on the road. Cloned vehicles can be very sophisticated, but some clues can still give them away, so attention to detail is a must when checking the vehicle over. HPI is the only provider to include clone cover as part of the Guarantee - comply with the terms and conditions, and buy prudently, and if you're unlucky enough to buy a cloned vehicle, you will be covered by the Guarantee (terms and conditions apply).

Is it at risk of being sold illegally?

Vehicles that are often driven by others (hire/fleet cars/ forecourt demonstrators etc) are often registered with HPI, in case someone tries to sell them. If an HPI Check finds a vehicle on the security watch register, we'll automatically contact the registering company to let them know that someone might be trying to put it up for sale. If your check shows the vehicle as being on security watch, you should not proceed with the purchase until we've investigated fully.

Is it worth less than you think?

Clocking vehicles is a quick way of adding value to a vehicle. Most used car buyers are looking for a vehicle with low mileage, so it can be tempting to try and meet this requirement by doing a 'little adjustment' of mileage. Whilst it is not illegal to 'correct' mileages, it IS illegal to sell a vehicle on and not disclose the change to the mileage. Not only does it add false value, but it also means the vehicle might miss significant service internals and work, which could end up posing a safety risk.

The HPI Check comes with a market standard valuation - if the vehicle is priced at a lot less than the market standard, you need to find out why. If you were the seller, would you under-price it?

Is it dangerous to drive?

If a vehicle is damaged and an insurance claim is processed for it, the insurer will either authorise repairs to the vehicle, or write it off (declare it a total loss). If it is written off, it will be recorded in a write off category, A, B, C, or D. A and B cars are so badly damaged they should never appear back on the road. C and D vehicles can be repaired and returned to the road, but you should exercise caution with them, and check the repairs have been done correctly and fully. A vehicle inspection should be able to confirm the quality of repairs and general road worthiness of the vehicle. If you buy a category C (or B, if you're looking to break it for parts), make sure that it has a VIC pass marker against it otherwise you won't be able to get a new V5C registration document issued for it.

Getting technical data on the vehicle

We also have access to manufacturer-supplied technical data* about the vehicle, ranging from brake horsepower figures, to maximum speed, and even height, length and width.

Calculating running costs

HPI are the only authorised distributor of the official used car label, outside of the transport governmental bodies. Based on the familiar format of CO2 ratings against a tabbed colour chart, the certificate* gives you an 'at-a-glance' indication of how economical the vehicle is. Combined with average fuel costs for a year, and vehicle excise duty rates (VED), you'll quickly be able to see how much the car, bike or van might cost you in your first year of ownership.

* where available