What is HPI?

What is a HPI check and do you need one?

If you’re looking to buy a new vehicle you’ll often see 'fully HPI checked' or 'HPI clear' within the description. Although this may sound like one of those jargon sayings it’s recommended you only buy a used vehicle with this status.

It's worth noting that there are other versions of HPI such as CDL or Car Data Check which are all trademarks in their own right however most dealers describe the check as 'HPI' regardless of the company they use. All you need to know is that they do similar things and all of them will give you the peace of mind you need.

HPI Checks

A HPI Check does a number of things. It ensures the vehicle you want to buy:

  • isn't already financed elsewhere
  • hasn't been written off from an insurance claim
  • has the correct mileage
  • is not reported stolen

Whether it's a car, motorbike or van that you’re interested in buying, if it isn't 'HPI clear' it could be for one of the reasons listed above. Legally this could mean that a finance company owns it, it's not road worthy or you do not have the rights to purchase it.

These checks are important as vehicles are constantly being sold and bought and you need to make sure you can legally buy the car, bike or van of your dreams.

What is a HPI check

How often will this happen?

Dealerships are constantly buying new stock from auctions or agreeing part exchange deals with customers. This means occasionally they may be offered a vehicle that legally they have no right to buy (and the customer should not be selling) as the vehicle may be on finance or has been written off. Most dealers will do a full check on the vehicles before buying them so that they can simply pay off any outstanding finance on the car to legally own the vehicle and be able to sell it.

Private sellers are probably the biggest risk when buying a car. From a finance perspective, if somebody cannot keep up their payments on a finance agreement they may be tempted to sell the vehicle and then either pay the finance off or use the money to buy another car outright. If they decide to use the money to buy another car and stop paying their finance agreement, the finance company still owns the vehicle. This means if the finance company finds out you'll spend a lot of time and potentially have a lot of hassle proving you've purchased it unknowingly.

Vehicle HPI checks

HPI checks will also protect you from the car being taken away by the police (if it has been reported as stolen), or the car not being legal if it’s been written off and isn't road worthy. The check can also help you see if the mileage is incorrect and the vehicle has been potentially 'clocked'.

Your rights

A 'HPI check' costs money regardless of where you buy it from which is why you'll only really see dealerships who offer it when you’re buying a car. You can buy your own check, but if you’re looking at more than one vehicle this can get pricey. A single check is around £20 but you can find some deals such as 3 for £30. Remember, though, paying £20 may be worth it if the vehicle of your dreams isn’t actually allowed to be sold.

If you're looking for more tips and advice read our blogs on what to look for when buying a new car and the tips for looking after a car you've purchased.

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