Welcome back to our Used Car Buying Guide series - where, by now, you will have probably read our first post - "The 6 Crucial Steps To Take When Buying A Used Car - Finding The Right Car, At The Right Price!". If you have not - please ensure to read it before you carry on. It offers a great snapshot of the 6 steps we highly recommend taking when searching for your next used car. In the following 6 blog posts of our "Used Car Buying Guide" - I want to discuss each step in much more detail - giving you a guided walk through for you to use when looking for your next used car. Thus ensuring you don't miss out on anything, that could lead to something you may regret after making the important purchase (this applies to whether you are buying from a private seller or a trader!!!).
As we now know, the first step you should complete, after you have found the car that "ticks the boxes" you have set at the start of your car buying journey, that fits within your ideal budget - is the HPI check. I will detail what a HPI check actually is, where you can obtain a HPI check, what the costs are and how you should analyse the report to ensure you get the information you need from it!
A HPI Check (commonly referred to as a motor auto-check, but for this post, and simplicity - we will refern to it as a HPI check) is a detailed report you can obtain containing key information about a vehicle. Depending on the level of check you decide to pay for - it will usually contain details about whether the vehicle has been reported stolen, damaged or is on secure motor finance (stating the motor finance lender that has interest in the vehicle as well as the agreement number attached to it). However, if you pay a bit extra you can get much more information.
There are numerous places (online) where you are able to obtain a HPI report for a vehicle, the most common and well known being the HPI Check website (www.hpicheck.com), where you can get a basic HPI check (that pretty much tells you whether the car has been reported stolen, damaged or on finance) or a fully comprehensive check (which details things like total cost of ownership, market valuations, MOT history plus lots more). Depending on how comprehensive a report you want to go for, there are other (cheaper) options that are available if you require a basic check - such as... Total Car Check (https://totalcarcheck.co.uk/), Instant Car Check (https://www.instantcarcheck.co.uk/) and My Car Check (https://www.mycarcheck.com/).
Well... Actually, it is not. Not when you consider the consequences of not getting one. Would you rather spend £9.99 on getting a HPI report and spending 15-30 minutes analyzing it, or buy a car whilst skipping this step - and find out it was reported stolen last week, resulting in the car removal from your driveway by a recovery truck the next? The reports vary in cost, depending on where you get them from and what level you choose. However they tend to range anywhere from £9.99 (basic) to £19.99 (full).
We highly recommend opting for a fully comprehensive, thorough check - which gives you access to all the information you will need to perform a full background check on any used vehicle. Yes... it may cost (slightly) more - however for the level of information you get, its definitely worth it - for that extra peace of mind.
The next step... is analyzing the information you have and knowing what to look out for. These are the main snippets of information we recommend taking note of, and using, to ensure the vehicle you are interested in is legitimate and honest:
These are the the very first things that will appear in the HPI report - and logically the first areas we should check! HPI reports tend to have a "traffic light" system - Red/Amber/Green. Red for high risk, amber for medium risk and green for no risk. What to look out for:
In an ideal world, we want to see all of these boxes highlighted in green. However there may be some occasions where you see an amber caution light, and and at first our reaction is to step back. But looking closer at why there is a caution can lead to a better understanding, and it is likely nothing to cause any major concern. For example - registration plate changes will throw an amber caution on to the HPI report - but these are often nothing to worry about. It is always advisable to obtain the original number plate from the seller and run a full HPI on that as well - as number plate changes can be used to hide the history attached to a previous registration number.
The HPI report will also have the VIN/Chassis Number associated to the registration plate you have entered. Quite simply - this must be cross-checked with the actual vehicle AND the physical logbook. On the majority of vehicles - the VIN number is located on the passenger side directly under the windscreen. What to look out for:
Check the vehicle model, colour (although the colour will not state the exact manufacturers name for the colour of the car. For e.g. Ruby Red would just state - Red), engine capacity, transmission, BHP and previous keepers with the logbook. What to look out for:
Again, on a FULL HPI check - you will be able to access the vehicle trade and retail valuations (usually provided by CAP or Glasses Guide). What to look out for:
A FULL HPI check will give you information on when the vehicle changed ownership. This can be an important piece of information to help you in the next stages of the car buying process. We highly recommend making note of these changes - for you to use further down the line when speaking to the seller. What to look out for:
A FULL HPI will also give you estimated cost of ownership (fuel cost) and the most up to date road tax cost for 12 months. This is useful information if you working towards a tight overall budget. What to look out for:
These are the main areas of a HPI report that we personally recommend to take note of and analyse the information. However, once you have completed the HPI check & analyses - the information should not just be forgotten. Most of the information obtained from this report will be used in the following steps of the Used Car Buying Process. In the following weeks - we will detail how you can use the information obtained from the HPI report, in the following steps of the used car buying guide!
In the meantime, should you have any questions about the information we have detailed in this chapter - please give me a call on 01922 50 20 25 - for some FREE friendly advice. If you are currently looking for a used car and want a helping hand throughout the car buying process by an industry expert - give me a call and I can let you know how we can quite literally remove the hassle out of the process for you by doing not only the above step, but all the following 5 steps (and more!), on your behalf.
Member since: 23rd July 2018
Hi, I'm Mike Kirby and I am the Owner and Director of Find & Finance Ltd.
Find & Finance is a unique personal vehicle finding service, helping you find the very best car, van or motorbike within your...