What is a HPI check? Everything you need to know

November 18, 2021 by

When buying a used car, there’s potential hurdles that could catch you out if you’re not careful. How do you know if the car you’re looking at is as the seller describes? Well, this is where a HPI check can help.

A HPI check will tell you if the car you’re viewing has been stolen, scrapped or written off — among a ton of other data. Read on for all you need to know.

What does a HPI check tell you about a car?

A HPI is a valuable tool when buying a used car as it can tell you a lot about the history of the vehicle. Below is a list of the information you get from a HPI check.

  • Is the car stolen? Hundreds of cars are stolen every day, and the unscrupulous folk who steal them could look to sell them on. If you buy a car that’s on the police national database as stolen, they will seize it and you’ll likely lose your money.
  • Has the car been written off? If the car you’re looking at has been damaged in the past, the insurance company may have declared it a write off. If this is the case, you’ll need to see evidence that the car was repaired to a safe standard.
  • Does the car have outstanding finance? If a car you’re interested in still has finance owing, this will need to be paid before you buy it. If the finance isn’t settled, you could be liable for the debt and the finance company may even repossess the vehicle.
  • Vehicle identity. A HPI check will confirm the make, model, number of doors, current and previous colours and how many owners the car has had. This is handy to know so you can confirm the car is as the seller describes. If the car is on false plates, the HPI check may not match the car in front of you. If this is the case, walk away.
  • A HPI check will also confirm if the number plate and the vehicle identification number matches the DVLA database. If the number plate and VIN don’t match, it’s best to move on to another car.

What doesn’t a HPI check tell you?

A HPI check won’t tell you if the car has been damaged in an accident if it wasn’t reported to the insurance company, or if it wasn’t written off. It’s worth asking the seller if it’s ever been involved in an accident.

In case they aren’t honest you can pay for a pre-sale inspection. This involves a professional mechanic coming to look over the car for signs of accident damage or poor repairs.

A HPI check also won’t tell you any information about the previous owners in terms of addresses or contact details, but this won’t tell you anything about the car anyway.

The vehicle’s service history won’t come up on a HPI check, so it’s worth checking that the seller has the service book for the car to make sure it’s been maintained.

Where can I get a HPI check?

There are many websites that offer HPI checks. www.hpicheck.com is the most well known place to go, and they offer comprehensive checks on your car. Along with what we’ve mentioned, they can tell you if the car’s got any mileage discrepancies and what they think the car is worth.

The RAC also offers vehicle checks which are detailed enough to help you make an informed decision. They’ll also tell you how much it will cost to own and run the car over the time you have it.

A quick search online for HPI checks will give you a vast list of options to suit your needs and budget, so it’s worth having a look and comparing different companies.

How much does a HPI check cost?

The cost of a HPI check can vary depending on the service you use and how comprehensive the check is.

Basic checks usually start from £10. This will give you the basic information such as if the car is stolen, has outstanding finance and if it’s been scrapped or written off.

If you want more details, such as the number of owners, MOT history, mileage discrepancies or details of the outstanding finance, you’ll have to pay for an upgraded check. These usually start at around £30 but can cost as much as £50.


What do I need to do a HPI check?

All you’ll need to carry out a HPI check is the registration number of the car.

How long does a HPI check take?

A HPI check is done online and is delivered as soon as you buy it. You’ll be able to see and download it immediately.

Where does the information in a HPI check come from?

A HPI check takes information from numerous sources including the police national computer, the DVLA, the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), The Association of British Insurers and different finance companies.

What does HPI clear mean?

HPI clear essentially means the car has a clean history. The car is not recorded as stolen, written off or having outstanding finance.

Should I get a HPI check

If you’re buying a second hand car, especially if you’re buying from a private seller, it’s worth getting a HPI check to make sure the car has no hidden surprises. The last thing you want is for a bailiff to come and take the car away because it has outstanding finance you weren’t aware of.