Buying a used car?

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1 in 3 cars we check
have a hidden history

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1 in 14 cars show
inaccurate mileage

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1 in 250 cars are sold
after being scrapped

car magnify image

1 in 3 cars we check
have a hidden history

tachometer image

1 in 20 cars show
inaccurate mileage

scrap image

1 in 250 cars are sold
after being scrapped


Free car check

There are several sources that can help identify part of a car’s history for free but these checks are not as comprehensive as a paid product. Free car checks will not identify whether a car has been stolen, written off or has existing finance which could result in the car being seized from you.

The RAC Vehicle History Check is the most complete check on the market from a brand you can trust and is the best way to have all the information you need when buying a car in one place, saving you time and effort using free sources online.

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Free car history tools

If you want to research a car online for free then the following resources can be useful when looking to purchase a car.

Vehicle MOT check

Gov.uk offers a MOT history check of a vehicle, if you know the registration of a car then enter it on the Gov.uk website. This free service will tell you if a vehicle has a current and valid MOT, as well as the MOT history of that vehicle and whether there are any outstanding vehicle recalls that you should be aware of before purchasing.

Vehicle Insurance check

askMID is an online service that can be used to check if a vehicle is currently insured. The MID (Motor Insurance Database) contains all the vehicles in the UK as well as their insurance status or alternatively whether a vehicle has been declared “off the road”. Entering the car registration into the free askMID search will either show that a vehicle is insured or more importantly when looking to purchase a car, if it has been declared “off the road” and for how long.

Car Valuation

To find out whether the price of the car you are looking to purchase is priced accordingly (to make certain that you are not paying over the market estimate) there are many services available that will value a car for free. One of these being the car valuation service on RAC Cars. However all of these services will only provide their valuation while a RAC Vehicle History Check will provide a private sale valuation, market valuation and running costs.

Running costs and reliability

When looking to purchase a car it is always a good idea to research into the reliability of a vehicle and the running costs. There are many resources online such as vehicle owners forums to find out what a car is like to live with. For the running costs, these can be difficult to determine for free. The manufacturer will release data such as average MPG (Miles Per Gallon) however these figures can vary with real world driving conditions. The best way to find out about reliability is by using the RAC Vehicle History Check which includes common breakdown reasons as well as common MOT failures for that make and model. You’ll also receive estimated fuel costs helping you to budget for running the car.


RAC Recommends

With so many sources of information available when looking to purchase a car, we decided to dramatically reduce the risk for car buyers by creating our own RAC Vehicle History Check which includes checks not freely available to the public. We are so confident in our vehicle check that we guarantee the data in them up to £30,000 when purchasing a full vehicle check. While the RAC Vehicle History check is a paid for service, it is also the most comprehensive and could save you from a car with a hidden past.

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More information to help you buy

Providing you have a reasonable cause, it is possible to request information on a vehicle’s registered keeper by contacting the DVLA, though this is available for a small fee. This also enables you to trace vehicle owners suspected of insurance fraud. You can also access a wealth of helpful information online to help you buy a used car safely. For guidance on buying and selling used cars, the RAC have issued a buying and selling guide.