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Get a Used Car Data Check

By: Scott McBride - Updated: 12 Jul 2010 | comments*Discuss
Get A Used Car Data Check

The temptation when buying a used car is to keep costs to a minimum, but one area not worth skimping on is a vehicle data check. If a car has been scrapped, written off or reported stolen, a vehicle data check will reveal the truth for the price of a few gallons of fuel.

Failing to get a vehicle data check can be a very expensive mistake if the car turns out to have a dodgy past. For instance, all vehicles taken without the consent of the owner are listed on the Police National Computer. A data check will reveal whether or not the car has been registered as stolen and may save a buyer thousands of pounds.

A car with any outstanding finance is legally owned by the finance company. In the UK, more than seven million vehicles are purchased using some form of finance, and a vehicle data check will discover if a motor has an outstanding loan registered against it. Ensure the loan is settled before the car is purchased, or the finance company may repossess the car.

Show Up Discrepancies

A data check can tell if a car has been scrapped and has somehow returned to market. If the mileage has been altered, a vehicle check will show up the discrepancy immediately and it can also tell if a car is older than advertised. If a car has been written off, a vehicle check will reveal this and can also tell which category of write-off the car falls into. This is important, as some written off cars can return to the road and others cannot. The categories are:

  • The car and all its spare parts should be crushed.
  • Spare parts may be salvaged, but the body shell should be crushed and the car should not return to the road.
  • The car was extensively damaged and the insurer decided not to repair it, but it could be repaired and returned to the road.
  • The car was damaged and the insurer decided not to repair it, but it could be repaired and returned to the road.
  • Fire damaged the car and the insurer decided not to repair it.
  • Theft - Unrecovered cars the insurer has issued a total loss payment on. The insurer can repossess the car as soon as it is identified, even if it has been bought innocently.

The data check will also provide a market value for the used car and confirm the number of previous owners. It provides a full specification of the car, including make, model, transmission, date of first registration and engine number. The car's correct Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) - often known as the chassis number - will be confirmed too. This should match the number on the vehicle registration certificate (V5C) and other markings typically found on the windscreen or on the floor by the driver's seat.

The services provided by vehicle data check providers vary, so find out what is included. Some checks offer buyers free insurance if any of the data in the report turns out to be incorrect. Others may give a free check if the report finds a car to have been stolen, written off, scrapped or on a risk alert register.

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