car check

A car is always a sizeable investment, no matter if you’re buying privately or commercially. Whether you’re planning on driving it, fixing it up or selling it, it’s always wise to get together as much information as you possibly can about the auction car beforehand. On our car auctions here at RAW2K, it’s why you’ll always find key information on each of our vehicles on its individual auction page. For most buyers, this information is enough. Others prefer to go a step further and carry out a more extensive background check on the vehicle, so they can be sure they’re getting value for money. So, if you’re thinking about becoming one of those people, here’s a bit about what’s involved!

Why run a vehicle background check?

As we’ve touched upon in the paragraph above, for most people it’s simply a matter of securing total peace of mind. Background checks can flag up a few common issues, for example whether there’s any outstanding finance on the car. This is often the result of an innocent mistake, such as a previous owner having forgotten to cancel their car insurance or road tax on the vehicle. Occasionally it can catch more serious issues, like whether or not a car has been stolen.

As you can imagine, these background checks are far more commonly used for used and salvage cars rather than new cars, as with the latter, there’s often not much history to them anyway! In most cases, basic details like the first registration date, year of manufacture and fuel type are often relatively easy to obtain. However, for more detailed information (such as whether the finance or theft examples used above), this is far more likely to be a chargeable service. This means that it can be a trade-off for buyers as to whether they want to pay for the background check. If they’re not successful in winning the auction, it can be money down the drain, so it’s often a judgement call on behalf of the buyer.

How to run a background check on a used car

As with many things these days, online is usually the best port of call. The DVLA is a great place to look first, as you can carry out a basic background check right there on the .GOV website. Before you get started, you’ll first need the registration number, make and model of the vehicle in question, as well as the MOT test number from the seller. If you’re able to, it might be worth adding the logbook (otherwise known as the V5C) reference number, so that you can check its tax rates and the date that the car was first registered.

What can you find out with a background check on an auction car?

To be honest, the answer to this can vary slightly depending on exactly whose service you’re using, and whether or not you’re paying for it. As we mentioned, you’ll need a few basic details like the registration number to start off with. Then you can check details like:

  • If the vehicle is registered to the correct number plate
  • Its year of manufacture
  • When the car was first registered
  • What colour it is (or used to be)
  • Whether it’s been imported or exported
  • The size of its engine
  • The volume of its CO2 emissions
  • Its current tax rate
  • The date that its current tax expires
  • Exactly when its MOT expires
  • Whether or not it’s been stolen
  • Whether it’s placed under a Statutory Off Road Vehicle notification

If you’re not sure about this last one, essentially if a SORN has been submitted regarding the vehicle it means that it’s been legally declared off-road. In that case, if you’re caught driving it, it’ll be you that bears the fine of potentially up to £2000. This applies whether or not you knew there was a SORN on the vehicle, so it’s often worth checking!

Then there are more expensive (but more specialised) services like HPI, which are able to check a number of additional details, such as:

  • Whether the car has been stolen
  • Whether it’s supposed to have been scrapped
  • The number of previous owners
  • Any mileage discrepancies
  • Its rough valuation
  • If its number plate has undergone any changes
  • Whether there is any outstanding finance
  • A logbook check
  • Whether it has been imported or exported
  • A VIN/chassis check
  • Any safety recall data

Should you run a vehicle background check on an auction car?

As we touched on above, that’s really up to you! One of the advantages of buying a used, salvage or seized car from our online vehicle auctions is that some of the answers to your questions will already be obvious right away. If you’re looking at an entry in our BMW online vehicle auctions, for example, details such as its fuel type and mileage will be listed wherever possible. Generally speaking, the background checks are most relevant for people looking to drive the car, so if you’re simply planning to sell it on, you might well find it’s not worth the extra cost. Really it depends on the condition of the car, what you plan to use it for and how long you plan to keep it.

Here at RAW2K, we have a huge range of makes and models in our online vehicle auctions for used, seized and salvage cars, including from leading manufacturers such as Audi and Peugeot. Why not take a look around, and see what we’ve got in stock?