Buying a used car is a big decision. Of course, this can offer a myriad of benefits; however, it’s worth keeping in mind here that second-hand models can also come with issues.
This will largely depend on how the past owner used and looked after the car, and Ian Sinclair fortunately, today’s guide has outlined some of the main things you need to know about using a free car check service to assess a used car’s history.
How to Check a Used Car’s History
Before buying a used car, checking its history is a must! Of course, there are a few ways you can go about this.
That you should always ask the seller about the car’s history. What the car has been used for and whether it’s been in any accidents are perhaps two of the most prominent questions to ask here, although there’s plenty of other information you could request, such as the past MOT history.
However, just because they’ve claimed something doesn’t naturally mean it’s true. As a result, double-checking is crucial, and online car history checks could help.
What Can a Car History Check Tell Me?
There’s a lot that a car history check can tell you about a vehicle, including the following:
- Past MOT history and write-off status: A professional check will bring up the past MOT history for the specified vehicle. In doing so, this can help highlight whether the car has had any past problems and if it is likely to need work in upcoming MOTs. Plus, if the car has been written off, this can also be highlighted.
- Financing: If the car you are intending to purchase has outstanding finance, not only is it likely illegal for the person to sell it, but you’d also end up taking on the finance cost. This can leave you effectively paying for the car twice. Ouch.
- Stolen status: It’s not uncommon for a stolen car to quickly be sold on to help prevent the thief from getting caught. Luckily, a history check can let you know if the vehicle’s been logged as stolen, helping you avoid such purchases (and potentially even return the car to its rightful owner).
- Vehicle information: Running a history check is a great way to authenticate that the number plate you’ve been provided with matches the details of the car. So, if you were intending to purchase a family car, but the number plate the seller mentioned was instead linked to an SUV, you’d know something was up.
When considering the purchase of a pre-owned vehicle, it’s crucial to weigh the pros and cons of opting for a certified pre-owned car versus a traditional used car, a decision-making process explored further in the related article about checking a used car’s history.
The Implications of Ownership History
While the technical history of a car is crucial, the ownership history can also provide valuable insights into the vehicle’s past. A car that has changed hands frequently over a short period could be a red flag.
It may indicate underlying issues that aren’t immediately apparent or suggest that the car has been difficult to sell for some reason. Conversely, a vehicle with a single owner over many years might imply a more stable and potentially more reliable history.
Ownership history can also give you an idea of how the car was used, whether it was a family vehicle, a rental, or a lease, each of which carries different implications for wear and tear. By understanding who owned the car and how it was used, you can make a more informed decision about the purchase
Deciphering the Service History’s Story
An often-overlooked aspect of a car’s history is its service records. These documents are a testament to the car’s maintenance story. A comprehensive service history should show regular oil changes, tire rotations, and other routine maintenance tasks, which are indicative of a well-cared-for vehicle.
It should also document any major repairs or service milestones, like timing belt replacements or transmission services. A spotty or incomplete service history can signal periods of neglect or indicate that the car may have undergone repairs after an accident that was not reported.
When reviewing service records, pay attention to the details. Consistent care by a reputable service provider is as important as the frequency of the maintenance. This section of the car’s history is a narrative of its reliability and can give you confidence in your investment or caution you about potential future costs.
Assessing the Impact of Mileage on Car Value
Mileage is more than just a number; it’s a significant indicator of a car’s lifespan and can greatly affect its value. High mileage can lead to increased wear and tear on the vehicle, which might mean more maintenance and repairs down the line.
On the other hand, a car with unusually low mileage for its age might seem like a great find, but it’s important to consider why this might be the case. Sometimes, low mileage can indicate that a car was seldom used or may have been stored for extended periods, which can lead to its own set of mechanical issues, such as degraded seals or stale fluids.
When examining a used car’s history, compare the mileage against the age of the car to gauge whether it falls within a reasonable range. The average car accumulates about 12,000 to 15,000 miles per year. Significant deviations from this benchmark warrant further inquiry.
Additionally, the pattern of mileage accumulation can be telling. For instance, a vehicle with a burst of miles might have been used for a long road trip, affecting its wear differently than consistent daily driving. Understanding these nuances can help you negotiate a fair price and anticipate future maintenance needs.
What Information Do I Need to Run a Car History Check?
All you’ll need to run a car history check generally is a vehicle reg. Always double-check that the number plate matches what’s on the vehicle; don’t just take the seller’s word for it.
Used cars can come with “baggage.” In line with this, running a car history check before completing the sale is vitally important. So, don’t buy a second-hand vehicle without one – you might just find it saves you from getting caught out with a fraudulent or dishonest sale.