Running an HPI Check

Car HPI checks provide you with vital information.

But Higher Purchase Investigation (HPI) and every car investigation service has limitations on the background information it provides you.

This article will show you what is and is NOT covered on any car check…

The organisation trading as HPI Limited, (HPI and HPI Check are trademarks of HPI Limited,) began trading in 1938 and are the original car history checking experts. The Used Car Guy is a partner and advocate of HPI as the UK’s vehicle check experts.

Start your own car investigation.

When buying a used car there is a small fee of £19.99 that’s the most important money you can spend. BEFORE you pay a penny of your hard earned cash out on a second hand motor make sure you run your own car check.

Do NOT rely on a dealers vehicle history check or an old one that a private owner had when they first purchased the car. You can never fully know what a used car has endured and one vehicle history check can be massively different from another.

For the sake of twenty pounds a car check may save you thousands of pounds, a lot of time and stress.

vehicle hpi check

Getting your car history check

So let us run through the vital elements of an HPI check (Higher Purchase Information check.)

To run a car check simply enter the registration number and then the mileage of the car you plan to buy. From here you’ll get lots of information, but let’s focus on the crucial parts:


1. Outstanding Finance – This is critical. If you buy a car with outstanding finance (and the owner doesn’t settle the balance before you actually own the car) such as Higher Purchase, Lease Contract Hire or PCP (Personal Contract Hire) you will lose ownership of the car unless you pay off the outstanding balance. But in almost all cases you will simply lose the car and any money you spent buying it.

There are always varying circumstances with car financing but the overarching theme is that you will lose time and money, but most likely both.

If the vehicle check shows up with money being owed via a “Stocking Loan” or “Demonstration Stocking” it simply means the car is financed by an outside finance company.
Basically the dealer doesn’t own the car. It belongs to the finance company but the dealer is the seller. These kinds of loans are very common from companies like Black Horse Finance and Motonova. Dealers are usually given 90 days to sell the car else the finance company will take the car back and enter it through auction.

Talk it over with your dealer, check their liability and get confirmation in writing that the financing will be cleared on the vehicle before you buy it. If you have any further worries regarding this just drop me an email and I will try to help.

But the bottom line is, don’t take risks. If the car is showing up with finance owed, whether that be a dealer, a private sale or some other arrangement, don’t buy the car until the used car check is cleared or you have a written confirmation.

2. Stolen Vehicles – Car checker services reveal 40 stolen cars every single day! HPI gather information from the Police National Register for each query carried out. It means that the vehicle remains the property of the individual or organisation from whom it was taken.

If your car checks shows up a stolen vehicle just walk away (and maybe call the Police.).

vehicle hpi check a brief history

3. Written Off – This is a term for a vehicle that has been declared a total loss by an insurer following accident damage or theft. It’s true that some written off cars can be allowed back on the road provided they have undergone certain car checks.

Category ‘A’ or ‘B’ write offs must never reappear on the road, whilst ‘C’ and ‘D’ may do so following proper repair, passing an independent Autolign-approved structural examination.

The Used Car Guy’s tip: I am passionate about cars; used cars and helping people make informed choices about how they spend their hard earned money on a second hand vehicle. The most important element to buying a used car is knowing if that car has been involved in accidents. Cars suffer huge impacts that can result in chassis bends, broken suspension arms, split seals, ruptured shock absorbers and the list goes on and on.

Unless (in the future) you are prepared to spend an immeasurable amount of money on an accident damaged car it would make no sense buying one.

Car Check

In fact if you were to buy an accident damaged car you’d want it to be one that has undergone all the proper independent Autolign-approved structural examinations that come from a resulting category C or D insurance total loss. This way you will know that the car is roadworthy.

what does hpi check

The Shocking Truth…that nobody seems to know

HPI or any vehicle history check cannot tell you about every accident a car may have suffered! More on this in a moment.

4. Mileage Problems/Discrepencies – The HPI Check uses the database of the National Mileage Register to search around 6 million records. It provides the best intelligence available to protect against clocking and will help you decide whether the car that’s showing a mileage of 46,000 may have actually covered 146,000 miles.

vehicle check

1 in 12 cars have a mileage discrepancy. This is a massive statistic and if a car lot has 100 cars for sale, statistically, 10 of those have a black cloud hanging over them. That means the car YOU are looking at might have been clocked!

Clocking (also known as a “hair cut” in the motor trade) is turning back or replacing the odometer, with the intention of increasing the value and deceiving subsequent purchasers. And believe me, I have heard many a car dealer brag at their exaggerated profits through car clocking campaigns.

It’s a common trick to deceive you and increase the resell value of a car. The average car travels 10k a year so use this as a starting point. For more information on this get my Definitive Car Buying Guide that shows you how to tell if a car is genuine mileage or not.

Most car checking services will show you other information such as Plate Transfers, CO2 Ratings and other Vehicle Identity information, but what I’ve listed above is the essential data you must find out.


Vehicle Check

What a Vehicle History Car Check Does NOT Tell You

If your car check is clean and the vehicle is free from major accident damage (category C or D insurance total loss) you’ll probably think you’re fine to go ahead and buy the car.

However, just because a car hasn’t suffered an “insurance write off accident” does NOT mean the car has never suffered an accident or series of accidents.

hpi vehicle checks

Car check services only provide you with information that’s actually been recorded against the vehicle.

They cannot tell you about any accidents a car may have suffered that haven’t been recorded! Many of today’s drivers would prefer to repair a car outside of their insurance company to safeguard their no claims bonus…It’s good to also realise that accidents that don’t result in insurance write off’s can be as damaging to a cars integrity as a major Category total loss! Car’s are made up of hundreds of different parts and it’s extremely easy for any car to suffer a bent chassis, suspension arms ruptures, CV joints damage ETC. Your carcheck doesn’t tell you this kind of information.

This applies to any vehicle on the road today and 2 in every 3 cars on the road today have suffered some kind of accident damage (minor or major accidents.)

What this means for you is uncertainty, despite running your own vehicle check. But there are ways of telling if a car has had accident repairs and/or replacement panels…

I have put together a Definitive Used Car Buying Guide that runs you through all the checks you need to carry out before buying a used car. They are things that I have learned over 25 years of buying and selling used cars and they are things the motor trade probably don’t want you to know.

Spotting accident damage and replacement panels is my primary target when buying used, and in the first module of my car guide I show you exactly how to do it.

Click here to run the check

So, running your own Vehicle HPI check is very important but there are limits to the information it holds about any used car in the UK. 


What is HPI? 
HPI is the oldest vehicle history checking organisation in the UK and was founded in 1938. The company was created to help car buyers make a wise purchase. HPI’s primary purpose was to prevent private buyers from purchasing a car that had outstanding finance (higher purchase HP.) HPI was the first of its kind to provide such a service.

What is an HPI check?
An HPI check produces  a vehicle specific report on a cars history. A vehicle check can uncover if: – A vehicle has any outstanding finance on it including higher purchase, lease purchase and personal contact hire. There are disastrous consequences for car buyers as outstanding finance agreements and debts are legally binding and will transfer directly to the new car owner. 

How does HPI work?
After entering a vehicle registration number and mileage into the HPI database a search is carried out using a variety of sources including: – DVLA (Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency), SMMT (Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders, The National Police Register, The Association of British Insurers and other finance companies. 

What does a HPI cover?
The company car check confirms specific vehicle information and provides insurance if a vehicle has been stolen at any time after 8 hours of running a check and the check alert did not highlight the illegal status.

What’s the best car checking service?
Vehicle history check services are a growing industry but HPI are the longest standing car check experts and carry a long tradition of serving car buyers since 1938.

What does HPI stand for?
HPI Check stands for Higher Purchase Investigation.