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The Utility of Online HPI Reports When Buying a Used Vehicle
Buying a used car is perceived by many shoppers to be a gamble and a guessing game. Sure, the car might look great on the outside and it might even run really well when test driving it on country roads and highways. But, just like every driver has a history, every vehicle has a story to tell. That story can involve maintenance problems, accidents, odometer tampering, and a number of other concerns which can lead to problems down the road, long after the actual sale of the vehicle has been completed and the old owner is out of the picture.
These unpleasant surprises can all be discovered before the sale actually occurs, however, using an online HPI report. HPI, which stands for Hire Purchase Information, can uncover unsavory details about virtually any vehicle currently offered for sale. For those considering a new vehicle, an HPI report should be considered absolutely a requirement before finalizing a sale. Here's what can be uncovered.
Uncovering a Vehicle's Identity and Ownership
There are two common and nefarious practices that can obscure a vehicle's identity. The first is falsification of the actual VIN number which accompanies and identifies the vehicle. This number is included with every vehicle by the manufacturer and can be used to identify the make, model, year, and even assembly location of the vehicle. If a vehicle has had a troubled past, dotted with accidents, insurance write-offs, maintenance problems, and other negative effects on its valuation, the seller may attempt to "spoof" the VIN number and replace it with one that has a cleaner record. This can be uncovered easily.
Another easy thing to uncover is whether or not a vehicle has ever been stolen, and whether or not it's currently being sold by the thief or if it was recovered by its rightful owner. This can save buyers a huge expense, as a stolen vehicle is largely impossible to acquire plates for.
HPI Can Determine a Vehicle's True Mileage
A vehicle's identification number isn't merely associated with its history of theft and "spoofing." Indeed, this number also incrementally tracks the number of miles recorded on the car's odometer. Whether it's routine maintenance, an oil change, or even collision repair, mechanics often note mileage numbers and attach them to the vehicle using this unique number. If the vehicle's odometer at the time of sale reads less than what is indicated by the HPI report, it's likely that the seller has tampered with the odometer in order to charge a higher price and artificially increase the value of the car itself. And the buyer could be on the hook if this tampering is ever uncovered and associated with their ownership of the car.
Accident and Financing History are Easy to Uncover
Finally, HPI reports can easily uncover whether a vehicle has ever been in an accident, and whether the current owner is still financing it through a dealer or private lender. This report will not only show that the car is still being financed but, in many cases, it will show much is left to be paid on the vehicle itself. Of course, this isn't necessarily an object to the sale of the car; a sale can be completed with an outstanding balance so long as the responsibility for the payments is transferred to the new owner. But it's worth double-checking the seller's story, as failure to do so could result in a significant financial loss for the buyer.
It's also good to check whether a car has ever been in an accident during its time on the road. Again, this is not a roadblock to a vehicle sale, but it's an important considering to make as those vehicles which have been in an accident are more likely to require expensive and frequent maintenance and repairs.
An Essential Part of the Vehicle Shopping Process
It's easy to see why an HPI report is so essential to buying a used vehicle. While the majority of sellers are honest people, there are enough disingenuous used car salesmen to warrant double-checking every sales claim, vehicle fact, and alleged feature. Responsible shopping yields the best long-term satisfaction and value, and an HPI report is an essential aspect of a responsible shopping process when considering a used car for purchase.