I'm often asked what an "HPI Check" is. Usually seen as a selling point on a used car, a seller will often refer to a car as "HPI clear." Not everybody knows what this means, or why it's so important to a potential buyer. The fact is that an HPI check should be one of the very first things to consider when looking at a potential used car purchase.
What Is an HPI Check?
Essentially an HPI check is a comprehensive vehicle history check provided by a company called HPI, which helps you build up a picture of a car's history. It holds records from several agencies including police, insurance companies and the DVLA, and can return a report on virtually any registered motor vehicle, including cars, vans and motorcycles. It alerts a potential buyer to any hidden problems with a vehicle's history, that might not be obvious when inspecting the car, yourself.
What Records Do HPI Hold?
HPI can show you a range of useful information, including:
- Registration / VIN Number - HPI will tell you if the registration number matches the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN number). If the VIN and registration number match, this will reduce the chances of you purchasing a cloned or stolen car. You'll also get details of any records held under previous registration numbers, if the vehicle has previously had a private plate or similar.
- Police - HPI holds records from the police to make sure the car isn't recorded as stolen on the Police National Computer.
- Finance - If the car has outstanding finance, it will show on HPI that a finance company has an interest in the car. As most car finance agreements are secured on the car, you could find a finance company taking the car back if the last owner never paid off the finance. If you buy a car with finance on it without knowing, you might find yourself buying the vehicle then paying the finance off too. If you buy a car with finance on it without knowing, you might find yourself buying the vehicle then paying the finance off too.
- Insurance - HPI holds records from insurance companies on whether the car has ever been subject of a claim, including a theft claim or an accident write-off. If it's been written off, it usually means that the insurance company didn't deem it economical to repair, so check the car carefully. (learn more about insurance here)
- Mileage - HPI holds a mileage register which will check the claimed mileage against records held by DVLA, dealerships, previous MOTs and similar, ensuring that your prospective purchase hasn't been clocked or had its speedometer changed.
- Scrapped - HPI will tell you if the car has been scrapped, alerting you if it might be a clone, or if it shouldn't be on the road at all.
If you're being told the car is "HPI Clear", then none of these issues should be highlighted in the report and you should be provided with a certificate to confirm this.
How Much Does It Cost?
An HPI check costs £20, and sometimes has special offers available if you want to check more than one vehicle. Other companies offer vehicle history checks at varying costs, but HPI are widely considered to be the market leader with the largest amount of available data. So, if someone refers to an "HPI check", make sure it actually is HPI who has done the check, because other providers might not offer the same cover.
What Are the Benefits?
HPI offer a £30,000 guarantee with every check that promises to provide accurate information. They also have a range of help and support guides on their website www.hpi.co.uk to give you useful tips when you're looking for your next car.
Should I Worry If It's Not Clear?
HPI offers a range of information, which might or might not pose a problem for a buyer. Many cars are purchased on finance, so it isn't rare to find a finance record, but you must make sure the finance has been paid off in full before you pay for the car. If the car shows as an insurance write-off, think very carefully and have it inspected properly before you commit to buy it.
If you decide to purchase your car from a private buyer, always conduct an HPI check and inspect the car carefully. At Thame Cars, all our cars are HPI clear and inspected and prepared to a high standard, and provided with a warranty. Don't be afraid to arrange an HPI check of your own by visiting www.hpi.co.uk if you want complete reassurance. Our expert team here at Thame are also on hand to answer any questions you might have and go through the HPI report with you if you're not sure about anything.