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How to check car history

Knowing how to check car history will give you the facts you need to purchase a used car with confidence. To check the history of your prospective car properly you need to carry out a car data check. This will provide information on areas such as whether the car is stolen, a write-off or if it has had different number plates in the past. Once the check has been purchased, a report is immediately delivered on screen and a pdf of the results is sent to you via email. This email will need to be saved, as you will need the reference number to update your next check at some point in the future.

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How to check car history with the RAC Vehicle History Check

The RAC Vehicle History car check uses information from a variety of data sources. These respected sources include the DVLA, Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT), the Police, The Association of British Insurers, and numerous finance companies.

Using these trusted sources enables our data check to provide accurate information on a number of critical areas. One of them is the Vehicle Title. Through Vehicle Registration Mark, the check will identify outstanding finances, such as existing loans and payments. With current owners liable for outstanding payments on their newly bought car, ensuring you don’t inherit any outstanding debts with a simple check is essential. Whether the car has any current police interest is also checked. Purchasing a vehicle involved in criminality not only loses you your car, it could also entangle you in a lot of legal wrangling in trying to clear your name.

Another important item is Vehicle Description. With the Vehicle Registration Mark (VRM), the RAC Vehicle History Check car data check will confirm the date of manufacture and date of first registration in the UK. Moreover, it will also include information on the number of registered previous keepers and the date of the last keeper change is provided. If the car has undergone one or more registration plate changes, you will be advised of each change and the date it was applied. Additionally, each previous plate will be checked in the same rigorous way as described above. If you want to perform a free car check, know that these only provide you with basic historical information so are not comprehensive enough to ensure that you buy your next car confidently.

Once a data check has been submitted and the report comes in, if any areas are flagged you will receive an explanation as to exactly what this area means. If there are any minor irregularities, you are advised to contact the seller for further details. For more serious irregularities, you are advised not to purchase the car, but to contact the appropriate authorities.

Getting an RAC Vehicle History Check is quick and easy to do online.

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Generate a Buyers Report in 3 simple steps:

  • Input the vehicle registration (of the car you want to check the history for)
  • Enter your email address (so we can send you a copy of your report)
  • Complete payment details

Your online report will be generated on-screen.

To prepare a Sellers Report:

Follow the same instructions above. You’ll also need your V5C document to hand (so that we can retrieve your vehicle MOT history) and details of any servicing you’ve carried out on the car.

Read RAC Vehicle History Check terms and conditions.