Whether you’re buying a used car from a private individual or from a dealership, there’s always a chance that you’re dealing with one of the less than honest types seeking to make a quick profit by exploiting your trust.
Of course, it’s equally possible that the seller you’ve found has acted entirely in good faith and disclosed every last relevant piece of information about the car. The real problem is telling which, and that’s where an HPI Check comes in. Here are just some of the things one can reveal.
The Car Has Been Reported Stolen
A definite warning sign—if this comes up you should inform the police immediately. If you buy a stolen car it remains the property of the insurer or the original owner.
The Car Has Been Written Off
Also called a ‘total loss’ this means that the car has been damaged in such a way that it would cost more than the total value of the car to repair. If this is a category C or D the car is safe (and not too uncommon on older cars that have been in moderate accidents) but the seller should tell you of this, and if the loss was a category A or B it should not be on the road.
The Mileage Has Been Misreported
Making a car look more valuable by turning back the odometer is the oldest trick in the book, and surprisingly easy to do to modern cars. A history check will reveal an accurate figure whenever one is available and if there is a significant difference between the one it reveals and what you’ve been told be wary.
There is Outstanding Finance on the Car
If you buy a car with outstanding finance you become liable for that money. If this comes up on a history check, get a written guarantee that the cost will be paid off by the time the car changes hands. If the seller refuses you’re probably dealing with a scammer.
A Safety Recall Has Been Issued
Sometimes manufacturers recall cars due to faults across the line that endanger drivers or passengers. If this has happened and no steps have been taken to make the vehicle safe, don’t buy it.