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Hoping for a sweet 16 on the March plate change?

HPI offers used car buying tips to avoid buying a vehicle with something to hide

The March plate change brings a swathe of used vehicles onto the market, as people upgrade their car. Used car buyers looking for a sweet 16 bargain could be in for a nasty surprise, if they don’t bother to protect themselves from the risks, warns HPI provider of the HPI Check®. Shiny paintwork and all the latest in-car gadgets can turn heads, but HPI urges used car buyers to conduct a vehicle history check to be sure that bargain is as sweet as it looks.

“More than one in five vehicles checked with HPI in the past year have had at least one number plate change,” explains Neil Hodson, Deputy Managing Director for cap hpi. “Whilst a plate change could be simply to personalise the vehicle, dodgy sellers call also change plates to hide a car’s true identity.”

A car that’s had a plate change could be hiding a multitude of issues. Buyers can find themselves out of pocket, if they have mistakenly purchased a stolen car or one that’s still on outstanding finance. The police or the finance house could seize the vehicle, resulting in the unsuspecting buyer losing both the car and the money they paid for it. Similarly, an insurance write-off that’s been patched up with new plates could be hiding serious mechanical or structural faults. But buyers don’t have to take the risk.

Hodson concludes, “The March plate changes means there are lots of bargains to be had, as people trade in their current car for something new. The best way to be sure you don’t buy a car hiding something sinister under the bonnet or in its past, is to get a vehicle history check. This way used car buyers can shop with confidence this March.”

The HPI Check gives used car buyers the confidence they need to shop around knowing they can find out a vehicle’s hidden history with the click of a button.  In addition to confirming if a vehicle has been written off, the HPI Check includes a mileage check against the National Mileage Register as standard, now with over 200 million mileage readings. It also confirms whether a vehicle is currently recorded as stolen with the police or has outstanding finance against it.


HPI’s Sweet 16 Car Buying Checklist

  1. [yes_list]
    • Set a budget and stick to it, including the costs for insurance, servicing and car tax
    • Have a list of questions to ask the seller and record the answers. Ask the seller to sign and date the document.
    • Always view the car in daylight
    • Check the car’s registration document (V5) to validate ownership and the accuracy of the vehicle’s age and mileage.
    • Check that the engine/chassis numbers match the V5 and HPI documentation.
    • Bring a coat – although it may be cold now, you will want check how the car will perform in both summer and winter. A good way to try this is to leave on your coat at first and see how well the car’s air conditioning cools you. Then, take it off and see how long it takes to warm up.
    • Ensure that appropriate insurance is obtained before you test drive the car.
    • Take it for a test drive on a variety of roads for at least 10-15 miles
    • Don’t rely on the MOT as evidence of a car’s condition.
    • Check for oil leaks, welds, untidy seams or paintwork. Are the electrics working
    • Check for rust and paint bubbles on sills, wheel arches and doors.
    • Does the mileage match the age of the car? Look for excessive wear on the steering wheel, gear stick, seat and foot pedals which could indicate the vehicle is older than the mileage suggests.
    • Beware of false car keys – this could indicate the car has been stolen.
    • Never pay with cash – use the banking system or walk away.
    • What’s the market value? If the price tag is less than 70% of the market price, be wary.
    • Conduct an HPI Check at to reveal a car’s hidden history