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Checking a car's history

Checking a car's history


How can you check the history of your potential new car? Here's what you need to know:

How do you know if a previous owner of the used car you’re interested in has acted on a recall notice and had a potentially serious fault fixed?

You may be alarmed at just how few people do; more than 1.5 million cars were issued with a recall notice in 2016, in response to a safety issue which had been flagged up by the manufacturer. The list of problems ranges from the risk of fires, to airbag concerns, brake and steering issues; the list is endless.

Manufacturers hate having to issue recalls because it damages the brand’s reputation and can be costly, so if a fault has been spotted and a recall’s been issued, it’s usually serious and needs sorting. On the whole they tend to relate to safety issues and yet despite the obvious dangers many owners still don’t bother to take the car back to the dealer for a free fix.

Overall we have a pretty good record of returning cars to dealers, about 90 per cent according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, but reportedly Vauxhall wrote to some owners of its Zafira MPV up to seven times alerting them to a fire hazard and yet some 55,000 still did nothing about it. BMW said that on an airbag recall it had a `hit’ rate of just 1.5 per cent…

BMW bonnet in rain

No one wants to buy a second hand vehicle hiding something nasty and while a reputable dealer will have these things checked out, you’re leaving yourself vulnerable if you go elsewhere.

There are some decent resources though where specialist companies with access to background history can check their data banks to see if a particular model has (a) been the subject of a recall notice and (b) the particular car you’re interested in has had the work done.

Data company, CAP hpi, has set up a new service for this or you can log onto the motor ombudsman’s website for a similar service where you type in your car registration and see what has, or has not, been done.  The sites are:

You can check if a recall has been issued from an excellent site run by the government’s Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, (VOSA). Simply type in the make and model you are interested in and the date of manufacture and it will instantly give you a list of recalls, a description of the fault and how many cars were affected.

Even the briefest of trawls reveals why it is a good idea to check these things. 

For example, some 3,600 Bentleys built between February 2011 and June 2014 were called back because of a possible fire risk due to a loose battery cable and the potential for some 41,300 Ford Fiestas to self-ignite was spotted on models made between January 2012 and August 2013.

You have been warned!

Contact us to find out more about our Used Car checks