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Do I Need to do an HPI Check?

There’s a lot to consider when you buy a new car, and great to see that you have decided to check out this important aspect! We don't want to see you getting your fingers burnt and then featuring in the next BBC Consumer programme!  😯 We start by thinking about the type of car, sound system quality, how many cup holders it has, you know, the really important stuff 😉 But there this is one aspect that you really need to pay attention to before making a purchase, you need to do an HPI check.

An HPI (Hire Purchase Investigation) check lets you know if the car you’re buying is legit - you don't want to buy a stolen vehicle, or one with outstanding finance on it. So the short answer to "do I need to do an HPI check?" is a resounding “yes”! But there’s more to it than that so lets have a close look...

We’ve put this guide together detailing everything you need to know about HPI checks in the UK and how it affects your car purchase. So read on, and discover everything is to know about doing an HPI check on your motor. 

Want to learn a little bit more about HPI checks? Check out this handy video 👇


What is an HPI check?

The word “HPI check” actually references the first company to provide background checks on cars. Going by the name of Hire Purchase Investigation, the British company offers vehicle history checks on every vehicle registered in the UK with the DVLA.  

Originally created to provide reports for people buying used cars, the company was founded back in 1938 in an effort to stop finance fraud. Today, the company works alongside the DVLA, insurers and the police to ensure people buy cars without a dodgy history. 

When do you need an HPI check?

You should perform an HPI check before buying any used vehicle, and most insurers won’t cover you if the car hasn’t passed its check. Several companies offer car checks to ensure it hasn’t been previously stolen, had its number plates changed or owes outstanding finance. 

Some are paid-for services while others are free, such as the car check on Carmoola. We’ll run a car check before lending finance to make sure everything is as it seems with the car you want to buy. That way, you won’t have any nasty surprises when you get the keys to your car. 

What does an HPI check cover? 

An HPI check is thorough, and ensures the vehicle doesn’t have any fraud-related issues. These include:

  • If it owes outstanding finance
  • Has previously been written off, eg is classified as a Cat D
  • Whether it’s been stolen
  • If the mileage showing is legit and matches with the car’s previous MOT
  • If it has a current MOT 
  • The number of previous owners
  • Identification details such as the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number)
  • The number of the number plate, as well as colour changes
  • If the vehicle has been scrapped or exported

HPI for private purchases and why you need one

Using a dealership offers you some guarantees when buying a car, but it’s trickier when it comes to a private seller. Therefore, you should be extra diligent and ensure you perform an HPI check before purchasing a car from a private seller. 

Without an HPI check, it’s harder to know things like whether the car has been stolen or if it’s a Cat D. Buying a car with previous finance-related issues could leave you responsible for paying the money owed in addition to the price you paid to buy the car. 

Other benefits of an HPI check

As well as seeing if the car was previously stolen or has outstanding finance, an HPI check can tell you helpful things like when it last received an MOT. Or if the mileage has been “clocked”, which means the number showing on the dashboard is incorrect. 

Roughly one in 16 HPI-checked cars have a mileage discrepancy, while one out of every four will have had the number plates changed. Overall, one in every three HPI-checked cars has found issues for the next potential buyer, such as an active finance agreement or loan still owed on the vehicle. 

The need for an HPI check

So as you can see, doing an HPI check is fundamental to buying a new car, giving you peace of mind and eliminating future issues. You can then buy with confidence, and refocus on the other problems with buying a car, like the sound system quality and the number of cup holders – because you can never have enough cup holders, right? 😂

We’d love to hear your thoughts on this article!