Best car check websites

We reveal which vehicle check sites provide comprehensive and cost-effective car data checks

We’ve all heard horror stories about buying a used car with a dodgy past. Even the shiniest examples bought from a posh dealer can have hidden issues. You will naturally want to verify the vehicle’s data – almost universally known as an HPI check, after the most popular brand – on any car you’re purchasing. But even these aren’t going to reveal everything.

We gave TotalCarCheck our top prize in a multi-test against rivals in 2019, but since then a couple of fresh entrants have come along offering new, more comprehensive data.

Verdict

VCheck has really shaken up the used car data check market, because it scans salvage auction listings to check for cars which have had damage but might not have been recorded on the official registers. CarGuide adds in maintenance data to give you an idea of what a car might cost you in the future. 

TotalCarCheck has risen to the challenge, though, and it too has added a salvage check to its package, so it’s seen off the newer challenger.

Cazana’s single checks are pricey, but it makes a lot of sense for a multi-check package. It takes joint second place here, just ahead of the AA’s bargain-priced rebrand of the HPI site and CarGuide.

The best site for you will depend on how many cars you want to check and how much information you need. 

  1. Total Car Check
  2. VCheck & Cazana (joint runners-up)

Reviews

Total Car Check

TotalCarCheck impressed us in our multi-test thanks to its clear and comprehensive reports, but also because the site gives away a useful amount of data for free, which allows you to weed out dodgy cars without having to pay. 

It will flag up a stolen car, MoT report information and mileage, along with recall and technical data. From there, you can choose a basic £1.99 Silver check or go for the full £8.99 Gold option to get the full status, including salvage searches and a series of valuations. We found them clear, accurate and good value.

VCheck

  • Price (single check): £9.99   
  • Price (10 checks): £60 
  • Rating: 4.5 stars
  • Contact: www.vcheck.uk

VCheck’s reports are easy to understand and found our recorded and unrecorded damaged cars without any issue. 

Unlike the other pair here, it also included a link to the salvage auction website so we could actually see pictures of the damage. This could be useful if it’s only minor scrapes that wouldn’t put you off buying a car, and will also give you an idea of parts you should be checking thoroughly when you view a prospective purchase. We were really impressed. The only reason it loses out to TotalCarCheck is price, especially for multiple checks.

Cazana

  • Price (single check): £14.99
  • Price (five checks): £19.95
  • Rating: 4.5 stars
  • Contact: www.cazana.com

Cazana’s site isn’t initially quite as user-friendly as the best rivals, and very little data is supplied for free, but upgrading to a full check brings a wealth of information. 

The most interesting was the scan for previous adverts of a car, allowing you to see the price and description if it’s been advertised before. Cazana also suggested a valuation, but it seemed optimistic in all of our examples. The estimated mileage figure seems to be based purely on MoT data, too. 

For just one check, Cazana is pricey, but a package of five is four pence cheaper than our test winner (opposite).

AA Car Check

The AA’s data check proudly proclaims it’s ‘powered by HPI’. In fact, it’s almost identical to the HPI check in every way, except for some AA branding and a much lower price. 

That means it’s among the most comprehensive here in terms of data, including the ‘Fraud Guard’ section, which allows you to check the V5 serial number and car’s VIN against DVLA records. 

Our only irritations were the lengthy sign-up process, scant valuation data and the £2.99 charge for recall data – especially given this is available for free on the DVLA’s MoT check site.

CarGuide

  • Price (single check): £8.99   
  • Price per (two checks): 12.99 
  • Rating: 4 stars
  • Contact: www.carguide.co.uk

Newcomer CarGuide doesn’t just know a vehicle’s past – it can predict its future, too, because the company uses fleet management software to project likely maintenance costs. 

The free basic check has a salvage auction alert, which identified our unrecorded Golf, but the site is hard to navigate and the descriptions of the checks and pricing are slightly confusing. Our other grumble is that you have to manually print each page – both other sites E-mail you an easily printable PDF file.

Caranalytics

It doesn’t look like the slickest of websites and has the occasional minor error, but Caranalytics offers one of the most comprehensive sets of check data. 

In addition to all the expected information, you’re also given eight valuations, ranging from what you’d pay on a dealer forecourt, down to a trade-in price. Mileage information comes from multiple sources, too. 

A single full check is cheap enough, at £8.95, and all subsequent checks are £6.99 each. This is fine if you’re only looking at a couple of cars, but will soon become expensive if you’re checking more than three.

Green Flag

The breakdown service provider describes its checks as an “HPI check alternative”. It’s certainly much cheaper; a single is £13.99, but a £22.99 package of five makes more sense. It’s not the cheapest here, but certainly good value for a trusted ‘brand name’. It takes a while to sign up, though, which might be an issue if you are checking details while looking at a car. 

The data is presented clearly and there’s a full VIN check available. But the valuations were overly optimistic and the check missed a mileage anomaly for one of our samples.

RAC

We initially presumed the RAC service was just a rebranded version of Green Flag’s check site because the sign-up and format are eerily similar. As with Green Flag, it has a full VIN check and includes common breakdown data for the model. 

But the RAC report turned out to provide more accurate data, with better valuations covering trade-in and forecourt prices. It also picked up on our sample’s mileage discrepancy. That could be worth the extra £1 the RAC is asking per report, but it’s still expensive compared to some rivals here.

HPI

  • Price (single check): £19.99 
  • Price (five checks): £49.95
  • Rating: 3 stars 
  • Contact: www.hpicheck.com

As with Hoover and Sellotape, the HPI brand has become a generic term for car data checks. It looks slick (along with the AA rebrand version), with a logical layout to the report and clear information. There’s also a ‘Fraud Guard’ area, which allows you to check serial numbers against HPI and DVLA databases. 

However, a single check costs as much as five from our Best Buy winner. A package of three gets a discount, at £29.97, but that’s still pricey.

Instant Car Check

While HPI’s checks are expensive, its parent company offers this budget alternative. A ‘Basic’ check flags cars which are stolen, written off, scrapped or have had plate changes. The £5.95 ‘Gold’ pack adds a VIN match and valuation. 

It looks good value, but the Gold pack doesn’t include the crucial finance or mileage checks, and adding those is £7.98 extra per car. More comprehensive reports elsewhere offer better value.

Have you used a car data check tool? Let us know how you fared in the comments below...

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