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Best car check app 2024

We check seven phone car check apps to see if they are hot or not

Buying a used car always involves an element of risk. Unless you know all the previous owners, you’ll be taking a chance on the history and ownership details, and relying on the seller’s honesty. But some people will hide a vehicle’s dodgy details to make a quick profit.

Getting a data check is the easiest way to weed out the wrong ’uns. Checks are more detailed and cheaper than ever, with various firms competing for your custom. All will be able to see if the car has been written off or stolen, and many have extra features for free. This will let you narrow down potential purchases before making a journey.

In addition to websites, many offerings also have smartphone apps. These can make it quicker and easier to enter information and view reports, especially if you are out and about while browsing for a new car. But which of these apps is best? We tested seven to find out.

How we tested them

We found the registrations of cars with chequered histories from salvage auctions and added in others with clean back stories but potential red flags, such as registration number plate changes after a private-plate swap

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These were entered into the apps, with us rating how easy they were to use for a one-off check and a series of inputs.

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We then looked at the reports, seeing if the information was accurate and extensive. Extra points were awarded for clear warnings of problems and explanations of complicated terms. Finally, we looked at the cost of a single check and any offers available for multi-buys.

Reviews

TotalCarCheck 

Total Car Check’s normal website price is £2 more expensive on the app, which the company says is down to Apple and Google taking 30 per cent of the revenue. However, the price of multiple checks is competitive, and the lower Silver level is much more cost effective if you’re comfortable without the finance search. 

The app itself isn’t as polished as some of its rivals, but is simple enough to use. Most importantly, the information offered is far more comprehensive than any competitors’. You also get a lot of features free of charge, including a search for recent listings of the car for sale. 

Visit TotalCarCheck...

AutoClarity 

This is an app which has been designed with ease of use in mind. To enter the registration number you want to check, you can use the keyboard, camera or voice recognition, and a good range of information is offered for free. Once you have the report, the results for each section are shown in a simple nine-box grid, with any areas of concern highlighted in red.  

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The cost for a single check is a very reasonable £9.99, but AutoClarity is not quite as cheap on a multi-buy package as TotalCarCheck. It also doesn’t have salvage data and missed one of our sample cars’ official scrapped status.

Visit AutoClarity...

MyCarCheck 

This app initially ran Total Car Check close on points, especially because it’s £2 cheaper for a full single report. It’s easier to use, with a smart design and simple-to-understand alerts to issues, with explanations of what the terms mean.

The free check offers a useful amount of data about the car’s specification, probable value and road tax cost. But you have to pay an extra £6.99 to check for outstanding finance and there’s no salvage-auction search or data guarantee. This means it seems to closely match the coverage offered by Total Car Check’s Silver package, which costs just £3.99.

Visit MyCarCheck...

Vehicle Smart

Using the Vehicle Smart search matched the AutoClarity app for simplicity. As with its rival, it also offers voice recognition or ANPR registration number input to make data entry simple. Once you have done this, you are then offered a selection of checks, with the Full option costing £9.99. 

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The results are clear and easy to understand, but brief. You need to pay an extra 99p if you want to see full vehicle specifications, while the salvage check is an additional £4.99. You also must register on the app to see if a vehicle is stolen. However, discounts are offered in return for a Premium Feature monthly subscription. 

Visit Vehicle Smart...

Car-Check

Uniquely among these data- check rivals, the Car-Check app offers all its information for free and never tries to upsell you any premium packages or additional search options. 

Tap in the car’s registration on the app’s homepage – or use the ANPR camera – and it will tell you some basic information, plus give you the opportunity to see the vehicle’s MoT history and road- tax price and validity. That’s all you’ll be able to see, though, and other sites offer more information for free, but for quick checks to see how much a car’s VED will cost you, the Car-Check app is fast and easy to use. 

Visit Car Check...

Carly

  • Price, single check: Free
  • Rating: 2.5 stars
  • Website: mycarly.com

The best part of the Carly app is that it’s free to use, with all the data provided for nothing in exchange for giving compulsory feedback every time you use it. 

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The car data-check option is part of an overall app which is designed to be used with Carly’s OBD reader software. It lists some detailed data, including a VIN and historical mileage records, but we found some of the information was wrong. There was a section which alarmingly said, “We found significant damages on that car in the past” but was only listing MoT advisories. There is no option to view other important data, such as write-off or finance checks. 

Visit Carly...

MyHPI

  • Price, single check: £19.99
  • Rating: 2 stars
  • Website: hpicheck.com

HPI offers two apps – the first is aimed at motor traders and the other is for members of the public. Entering a registration number gives you the option to add the car to your Garage, which will give you reminders for your MoT. The app will then steer you towards a data check, with the top-level search costing a whopping £19.99. 

The resulting report is easy to understand, with clear alerts for issues, and we also liked the free valuation tool. However, the app was glitchy and slow on the several occasions we tried it, and the menus are complicated to navigate.

Visit MyHPI...

Verdict:

TotalCarCheck’s app isn’t the best looking or easiest to use, but it makes up for this with the most comprehensive data as part of its Gold Check and more information than some rivals with its £3.99 Silver package. The multi-buy options make TotalCarCheck even cheaper. 

AutoClarity takes second place mainly because the app itself is so easy to use and the data is presented in an easily digestible form. MyCarCheck comes in third, thanks to its smart design and plenty of information being offered for free.

  1. TotalCarCheck
  2. AutoClarity
  3. MyCarCheck

Now read our complete guide to buying a used car...

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