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Saying “1 LUV U” with a personal plate this Valentine’s Day?

7th February 2011 Print

With more than 30 million personalised registrations currently available from the DVLA, many UK motorists may be declaring their love with a personal, or cherished, plate this Valentine’s Day. But as vehicle information provider HPI warns, whilst it could be that perfect surprise for a loved one, vehicles which have undergone a plate change can often make a used car buyer’s heart flutter for all the wrong reasons.

HPI’s own statistics show that more than 1 in 5 cars it checks have had at least one number plate change. Whilst many of these plate changes have been made simply to personalise a vehicle, there can sometimes be a more sinister reason – to change its identity. A vehicle that has had a plate transfer could be hiding a wealth of problems and only by conducting a provenance check can used car buyers be confident in the true status of a vehicle.

Nicola Johnson, Consumer Services Manager for HPI comments, “A personalised number plate is a fun gift for that special someone, but used car buyers need to be aware that not all plate changes are honest. A change of registration plates can be used to hide the vehicle’s true identity from unsuspecting buyers. At its most sophisticated, the vehicle may be cloned – taking a stolen car and applying the idenitity of a legitimate vehicle to it, to hide its stolen status. To help identify such vehicles, the HPI Check cross-references the Vehicle Registration Mark and the VIN/chassis number, matching them against the vehicle’s official history  to see if it all correlates, and also searches its own  archives as far back as 1990 to see if anything untoward happened to the vehicle under its previous plates.

As well as checking the vehicle’s previous plates, the HPI Check will also confirm the vehicle’s identity (as recorded on the V5 log book),  and reveal whether it  is currently recorded stolen, been written-off by an insurance company or is subject to an outstanding finance agreement. HPI  reveals over 19 stolen vehicles every day and 4 in every 100 vehicles checked are confirmed as insurance write-offs, showing how great the risks are for the unsuspecting used car buyer.

Johnson concludes, “It’s easy to let your heart rule your head when it comes to Valentine’s gifts, but used car buyers need to be aware that plate changes aren’t always an act of love. All too often we see plate changes that have evidently been made to disguise the current status of a vehicle or obscure its age or history. By conducting an HPI Check motorists can avoid picking up a car with a misleading or problematic number plate.”

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