HPI Check: Car Finance Jargon Busters

When looking for an affordable but reliable used car, it’s important to conduct all necessary checks thoroughly. The car should be in the condition that the seller describes it to be and all documents relating to the vehicle should have no issues. But there’s another crucial step you can take before buying a secondhand car, and that is to conduct an HPI check. With this, you will know whether the car you’re looking to buy has been written off, stolen, or scrapped. You can avoid a ton of problems just by doing a simple HPI or "Hire Purchase Investigation" check. Let’s know more about it!

What Information Does an HPI Check Provide?

With an HPI check, you will know the history of the car and you can avoid certain pitfalls. For example as the name suggests, it will tell you if there is any outstanding or unpaid finance registered against the car,  if the car has been written off by the insurance provider, or if it still has been stolen. You can also verify the vehicle identity and compare the details to the corresponding documents the seller has. Here is the information that an HPI check will provide you with.

Stolen Vehicle

So many cars, up to hundreds of them, get stolen each day in the UK. The culprits may look to sell the vehicle to unsuspecting victims. A car that has been recorded as stolen on the police national database will be seized. So, be careful. These stolen cars might be sold for really low prices but this won’t be a good bargain because you’ll lose that car and it would be impossible to get your money back. The police have every right to take it back and return it to its rightful owner.

Written-off Car

Before you buy a used car, you need to know if it has incurred any major damage. With an HPI check, you will see if the past insurer has written off the vehicle because of extensive damage. There are certain write-off categories that would deem the car as permanently unroadworthy, other categories may allow repair. However, you should demand from the seller evidence and records of repair work on the car so you can be sure that it is safe to be driven on the road again. 

Car with Outstanding Finance

It’s important to remind car buyers to avoid cars with outstanding finance. The driver of the car cannot legally sell the vehicle because they are not yet the legal owner of the car until they have paid their car finance company in full. 

If you buy a car with outstanding finance, it’s possible that you’d be liable for the unpaid debt, and if you do not settle it, the car finance company can legally repossess the car. Avoid the headache and stress by making sure the seller of the car is indeed the legal owner and that all repayments on the car have been made to the lender. 

Vehicle Identity

It’s also vital that you verify the details of the vehicle, such as its make, model, previous and current colours, number of doors, and also how many previous owners the car had. You can also confirm the number plate as well as the vehicle identification number of the car (VIN) to the details provided in the DVLA database. 

Compare these details to the seller’s description of the vehicle to ensure that they match. If the car has false number plates, then the details on the HPI check and the actual car will not match as well. If this is the case with the car you’re looking to buy, do find another vehicle from a trustworthy seller. 

What HPI Checks Don’t Show

Whilst doing an HPI check is a crucial step before you buy a used car, you should also know that there are  some details that an HPI check won’t be able to show you. For example, if the vehicle has been damaged because of an accident and it was not reported to the insurer, then of course there won’t be any record of it. 

To be sure about the car’s history, don’t hesitate to ask the seller if the vehicle has ever been damaged due to an accident. A trustworthy and honest seller will provide you with all the details you need to make an informed decision. 

If you’re not sure about what the seller is claiming, you may want to consider paying for a pre-sale inspection. Through this, a professional auto mechanic can go with you so that they can check the car for any signs of damage or unsatisfactory repair work. 

An HPI check also won’t be able to provide you with the details of the car’s previous owners, so don’t worry if nothing about the owners shows up on the results of the HPI check. Lastly, the service history of the car will not be shown either. The best you can do is to ask the seller for the service book of the vehicle so you’ll know whether the car has been maintained regularly and properly or not. 

Where to Do an HPI Check?

When you’re ready to conduct an HPI check on a car, simply do an online search and you’ll be provided with a list of websites where you can do it. For example, you may go to www.hpicheck.com so you can check the secondhand vehicle thoroughly before buying it. The details provided by this website are comprehensive. It will even tell you if there are mileage discrepancies and also what they think the worth of the vehicle is. 👍

How Much is an HPI Check?

Since HPI checks provide you with valuable information about the car, expect to pay a small fee like £10 for a basic check. This kind of check will tell you if the car has been written off, scrapped, stolen, or has outstanding finance. More comprehensive checks will be a bit pricier. Some may cost £30 to £50, so it might be worth considering those if you want to know the details of the outstanding finance, mileage discrepancies, MOT history, and the number of owners the car has had. 


Whilst an HPI check is not free, it’s a small cost that will give you peace of mind because you know you’ve thoroughly performed a comprehensive check on the car before buying it. It’s important to be as careful as possible, whether you’re buying from a used car dealer or a private seller. The good news is that if you are buying from a dealership and you choose to apply for finance from Carmoola, we will do the HPI check for you free of charge. And we won't keep you hanging about for the result of your application - if you're approved, then you will be able to secure that ride that you have set your mind on, and not lose it because of a delay in getting your car finance! 😃