What is an HPI car check and why are they important?

According to HPI car check is a vehicle check that provides information about the history of any motorised vehicle registered in the UK, such as cars, vans, and motorbikes.

It can help you avoid buying a car that has been stolen, written off, clocked, or has outstanding finance or other issues. An HPI car check can also give you a valuation, MOT history, and estimated fuel costs for the car you are interested in. You can get an HPI car check online from the official website or from other providers too.

what is hpi check

What does HPI mean?

HPI stands for Hire Purchase investigation, it provides information about a car’s history of a used car, such as whether it has been stolen, written off, or has outstanding finance.

One of the great things that a HPI check can do, is that it can help buyers avoid potential problems and scams when purchasing a second-hand vehicle.

What does a HPI check tell you about a car?

A HPI car check is a wonderful thing and will be able to tell you lots of information about a vehicle that you maybe looking at potentially buying. So what sort of things will an HPI check be able to tell potential car buyers?

A HPI check will tell you about a car:

  • Its make, model, number of doors, current and previous colours and how many previous owners it has had. This can help you confirm the car is as the seller describes and if it is on false plates.

  • If it has any outstanding finance or loans that need to be settled before you can buy it. This can prevent you from being liable for the debt or losing the car if the lender repossesses it, says HPI.

  • If it has been reported as stolen by the police or the original owner. This is great because it can work to protect you from buying a car that does not belong to the seller and may be seized by the authorities.

  • If it has been written off by an insurance company due to accidents or damage. This can be a good indicator if the car is unsafe to drive or has been repaired poorly.

  • If it has any discrepancies in its recorded mileage. This can reveal if the car has been clocked, which means the mileage has been tampered with to make the car appear less used and more valuable, says HPI.

  • If it has been scrapped by the DVLA, imported or exported, or has any other issues that may affect its legality or value.

Also, according to HPI, a HPI check can also provide you with other useful information, such as the car’s valuation, MOT history, road tax status, and running costs. You can get a comprehensive car check from HPI for £19.99 or a multi-check option for 5 cars for £6 per vehicle.

Alternatively, you can use other affordable HPI check alternatives, such as Car Analytics, which offers a car check from just £1.99.

hpi checks - vehicle licensing agency

What doesn’t the HPI Check tell you?

There are some things however, that an HPI car check does not tell you about a car. Some of the limitations of an HPI car check are:

  • It does not include previous ownership information – an HPI check will not tell you if a leasing company or rental agency previously owned the car, says the DVLA MOT Check.

  • It does not provide information on the current condition or performance of the car – an HPI check will not tell you if the car has any mechanical faults, defects, or damage that are not recorded by the insurance company or the DVLA. This is why it’s always a good idea to inspect the car yourself or get a professional inspection report to verify these aspects.

  • It does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information – an HPI check relies on data from various sources, such as the police, the DVLA, the insurance industry, and the finance company too in some cases. For example, some insurance companies may not report write-offs or accidents to HPI, or some finance companies may not update their records, such as when a loan is settled for instance, says HPI.

How much does a HPI check cost?

Cost is everything these days and the cost of a HPI check depends on the service provider and the level of assessment you choose.

The official HPI Check offers three levels of check: Basic, Standard and Multicheck. According to Car Analytics, the Basic Check costs £9.99 and comes with debt/finance, stolen, insurance write-off and imported/exported information. The Standard Check costs £19.99 and includes the full range of data, such as mileage, number of owners, CO2 emissions, MOT history and more. The Multicheck costs £29.97 and allows you to check up to three vehicles within two years.

There’s no such thing as a FREE HPI Check

Now that we’ve discussed HPI checks is there such a thing as a free HPI check? When buying a used car a free HPI check would be great but sadly there is no such thing as a free HPI check.

HPI is a trademark of HPI Ltd, and they charge a fee for their service. However, there are other providers that offer similar vehicle history checks for a lower price, or even for free. For example, you can use FreeCarCheck to get some basic vehicle checks that include DVLA data, tax, CO2, mileage, MOT history, and safety recall.

If you want a more comprehensive check that covers outstanding finance, stolen, insurance write-off, scrapped, mileage discrepancies, and more, you can upgrade to a premium check for £9.95, which is half the price of the official HPI check.

Another option is to use AutoCheck from Experian, which also provides a detailed car data check for £5, or up to 5 vehicles for £10. These checks also come with a £30k data guarantee, which means you are covered in case the data is inaccurate or incomplete.

check and verify a used vehicle's history with a HPI check

What is HPI clear?

An HPI clear car check is a type of vehicle history check that shows that the car has no problematic data in its past. According to Not a Guru, it means that the car has passed an HPI check, which is a, comprehensive report that provides crucial information about a used car’s background and status. Essentially, it refers to the fact a vehicle has no outstanding finance, isn’t written off, etc. and is fully clear to be used, bought, or sold.

To get an HPI clear status, a vehicle needs to have an HPI check, as mentioned above. A HPI check is a vital tool for prospective car buyers and sellers in the UK to ensure they are making informed decisions and avoid buying or selling vehicles with hidden issues, unpaid loans, or a questionable past.

It’s really simple to do as well, you just simply enter your number plate registration into the vehicle history tool, that you’re using, for example, the RAC has the RAC vehicle history check, and there are many others too like Car Analytics that can also provide a service history record. So if you’ve found your dream car, but you need an HPI check on it first, to find out all the bits and bobs from finance and insurance companies etc. then why not get to it now you know exactly what it’s all about?

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