Car History Check FAQs


Getting a car history check should be the first thing that you do when looking to buy and view a used car. The amount of data that is provided can help you find out if the car is OK to buy or if you should walk away.

But it is always good to know how to view a car history report as to the untrained eye it could mean very little. Below are just some of the FAQs for car history checks answered so that you can hopefully use it to avoid buying a lemon.

What is an Import/Export check?

This check simply tells you if the car has been imported to the UK or exported out of the UK. Both provide some insight into what it could mean about the car. If it has been exported then the car is registered with the DVLA as an export therefore it cannot be registered on the UK roads. If it has been imported then it could make parts harder to come by or an issue with the insurance. There’s also the potential problem of not know the history to the car prior to it being imported.

An imported can could have a whole host of issues from it’s origin country that you will never know of. Therefore you should ask questions and see if they have a full service history – which might need to be translated.

What is a car history check?

A car history check is a report that will be instantly compiled after you input the VRM/number plate of a vehicle. The data is generally pulled from multiple sources that are government and 3rd party data providers based.

You will get a variety of information but it ultimately depends on the provider and which option you choose. They all offer free checks but for low-fee’s you can get a basic data check or a total car check. Below are some car history data points you can expect to get with paid car checks:

  • MOT history
  • Road tax status
  • Accident/write-off history
  • Mileage anomaly alert
  • Performance and running costs
  • Scrapped/Certificate of Destruction issued
  • Stolen/High Risk alert
  • and much more all of which can help you understand the true history and identity of the car.

Why should I get a used car check?

There is a growing number of used cars in the UK that have a hidden past. This ultimately costs the buyer more than the seller. Getting even a free car check provides you with a quick sanity check to make sure even the basic of information is correct.

Ultimately you would get the vehicle inspected by someone and run a car history check to ensure everything is correct. Basically getting a used car check helps you to understand if the car has ever been written-off, if it has outstanding finance, recorded stolen, imported/exported, plus much more. This is ideal to ensure you do not buy a car which will become expensive at a later date.

Where can I get an MOT check?

There are 2 options for this – the government website or a car history checker. The MOT (Ministry of Transport) test looks for various mechanical and bodywork problems to determine the roadworthiness of the car. The test will go through brakes, fuel system, lights, mirrors, seatbelts, wipers, exhaust and more.

A car will be issued a pass or fail with notes for the reasons added alongside advisories. Because this is stored by the government, it means that it generally has all of the MOT information of the vast majority of cars out there. MOT data provides you with mileage anomaly research, failure reasons and advisories too. All of this is amazing information to know how the car has been maintained, if it has been problematic and what the state of it should be in.

Why do I need a car tax check?

It is illegal to drive without valid road tax and can carry a hefty fine. This reason alone is why you should get a car tax check. So if you go to buy a car you need it to have road tax otherwise you cannot drive it away. Also if a car is stored off public roads and has no road tax it will most likely be SORN therefore you will need to find a way to transport it to get a valid MOT, to then get insurance to then get road tax.

Sometimes you can forget when your road tax is actually due, knowing how many days you have left can help you prepare for an MOT and repairs if needed.

Your Guide to Vehicle History Checks


When you are looking at a used car, you might be a little scared by the fact that it can be difficult to spot a bad car. To the untrained eye a used car that runs, is polished and makes no sounds is good enough.

Getting a vehicle history check gives you back control in the buying/selling process of a used car. As a buyer, you can see if there are any major issues with the car that may not be easy to know such as is it recorded as stolen or does it have outstanding finance – both of which can cause you a lot of headaches if they are correct and you are not aware of it.

A car history check ensures you know the little details that can make a big difference in the value of a car and the long-term outlook for running costs. Spotting mileage anomalies will help to pinpoint a car’s true value plus any potential problems with mechanics too.

How to get a free check?

You can head over to a trusted car checker platform that is linked up to all of the relevant data providers that include the DVLA and DVSA.

  • Enter the car’s VRM (number plate) into the car checker.
  • The system will then check the VRM against the DVLA database.
  • This will be done instantly so you will know: the full MOT history and status including mileage and fail/advisory notices too.
  • General vehicle specification data will also be provided alongside fuel, CO2 emissions, performance data and running costs too.

All of the above is provided for free by car checking platforms and the DVLA too.

What is included in a basic car check?

Getting yourself a basic car check which most car checker platforms provide gives you some additional information on the car’s history. This data can be useful in getting a little more understanding as to the true history of the vehicle that you are viewing.

Below is a list of some of the common checks that a basic car check will provide you with and some additional in-depth details to explain the check more.

All of the free check data is included with a basic car history check.

Keepers History Check: This check provides you with the number of owners that the vehicle has had since first registration.

This is an essential check and one that can point to any potential issues with the car. The general consensus is that the fewer owners that a vehicle has had, the higher the valuation it will demand.

Reviewing a car’s history of keeper’s ensures that you know if it has been potentially been unreliable or if there’s something else wrong with it such as being stolen. The point here is to ensure you understand what a high number of owners could potentially mean about the car.

That being said, newer cars may have multiple owners in a short space of time simply because it’s a common thing to do for some people. Buy a new car and it will ultimately get sold every year for a newer model. This can be a sales rep’s car and it’s worth asking about the history of the car.

Number Plate Change History: Generally speaking multiple number plate changes do not happen with cars. Apart from novelty plates and birthday presents it is rare to find a car that has had more than one number plate change in it’s lifetime, especially newer models.

Knowing how many times a car has had a number plate change could point to something more devious such as a stolen car. A number plate change really only happens because of a desirable configuration that matches somebody’s car make and model or their name, for example.

So consider this if you happen to be viewing a car that has had multiple number plates in it’s lifetime.

Colour Change Count: See how many times a car has had the colour changed on it. Again, most cars do not go through multiple colour changes in it’s lifetime. So knowing if the car has had any changes is ideal to help you ask some more questions around it’s history.

Multiple colour changes should be considered just as suspicious as multiple number plate changes. If there are multiple changes of both number plate and colour of the car, you need to leave that car alone as it will probably have a bad history.

Scrapped: Check if the vehicle has been recorded as scrapped with the DVLA. If this is the case then you cannot get any road tax, MOT, or insurance. So if you buy the car you will inevitably be left with an expensive piece of metal that you cannot do anything with.

VIC Inspected: This ensures that the vehicle you are looking to buy has not been issued with a V5C for a stolen or scrapped vehicle. A VIC inspection is generally conducted after heavy repairs were completed and the work need to be signed off as road worthy.

VIN/Chassis Number: This is considered a basic and easy check that can instantly tell you if the car that you are viewing has a major problem or not. A mismatched or missing VIN number will stop you from getting a full check or at least provide you data for a completely different car. Either way it’s important and needs to be run as a basic check.

Engine Number: Again mismatching numbers could mean that something is not right. As mentioned above with the VIN number – this is a crucial check to help understand if the car is OK or not.

What is included in a full car check?

All of the free and basic check data gets included into a full car check which is considered the best value for money. The vehicle history provided ensures plenty of information for peace of mind.

There are additional vehicle history checks that are included which includes:

Outstanding Finance Check: Owning a car that has outstanding finance means that you will have the car taken away by the finance company. You will not be compensated or given any cash for this either. Therefore, checking if a car has outstanding finance is crucial to avoid losing a lot of money.

Police Stolen Check: If a vehicle is stolen and you are in possession of it, the police will firstly take the car and then you will need to make it very clear that you never knew that the car was stolen. This is stressful and something that you do not need to have hanging over you just because you wanted to buy a car.

Running a police stolen check shows you if the car has been recorded as stolen and is in the police computers. If it is, don’t touch it and report it to the police if need be.

Certificate of Destruction: If the vehicle has been recycled by an ATF (Authorised Treatment Facility) it will have been given a certificate of destruction meaning that you cannot drive the car, insure it, get road tax for it or get it an MOT.

Insurance Write-Off Check: An insurance company will write a car off when the repairs are too expensive in comparison to the vehicle’s value. This means that in most cases the car was involved in a crash and it was given a category depending on how bad the damage is. There are categories that are not as severe such as Cat D which is normally light crash repaired and sold on.

High Risk Check: A car that is flagged as high risk is generally related to a financial issue that revolves around the ownership of the vehicle. This high risk check means that a 3rd party is tracking it so that it will be prevented from getting sold on. As you can imagine a high risk flag is one that should send you on your way.

Mileage Anomalies: It is becoming increasingly common in the UK for car’s to get their mileage changed from the true number. The reason is to simply increase the value of the car, generally speaking the fewer miles the car has the higher the valuation it can command. Mileage anomaly checks flag up any discrepancies from MOT tests that might be an issue. You can then dig deeper to find out what happened as it could be a genuine product fault.