Frequently Asked Questions

All you need to know about Car Data Checks

About Car Data Checks

How can I get a car history check?

If you know the registration number of the car then you can get an AA Car Data Check online now.

Why do I have to give the VIN as well as the registration number for a Car Data Check?

The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is a unique number to identify the vehicle, regardless of number plate changes. lt must be entered to trigger the data insurance. If you do not have it or it is not matched to the VIN on the database it must be provided at a later date to Customer Services in order to invoke the Data Insurance Cover.

The VIN is normally a mixture of 17 letters and numbers, and does not contain letters I or O, but does contain the numbers one (1) and zero (0). If the VIN does not match you should check it carefully with the V5C registration document and on the vehicle. It can be found in at least two places on the vehicle, on the VIN plate under the bonnet (a metal plate roughly 3in x 4in) and embossed on the body of the vehicle. On many modern vehicles there is also a 'visible VIN' at the base of the front or rear windscreen.

If the VIN does not match we advise that you postpone the purchase of the vehicle until you have contacted Customer Services. You can email our Car Data Check Customer Service team.

What information does Car Data Check provide?

An AA Car Data Check will tell you if a car:

  • has finance recorded against it
  • has been written off as a total loss by an insurance company
  • is recorded as stolen on the Police National Computer (PNC)
  • is being tracked by a third party

It can also tell you about any mileage history we hold. We'll also tell you how many previous car owners (keepers) it has had (you need to add two to the number we supply to work out which keeper you will become). If the colour of the car has changed over the years, we'll tell you when it happened and what the original colour was.

What information do I have to provide to get a Car Data Check?

Initially we only need the vehicle registration number (called the VRM). If you know the current mileage this may help to highlight a mileage anomaly. You will need to confirm the vehicle identification number or VIN prior to purchase to ensure that all the details of the vehicle match our records, but you can do this later by returning to the check online.

What previous keeper data can Car Data Check tell me?

We can tell you how many previous keepers the car has had and the dates of change. For example – previous keepers means that it is still registered to its original keeper and you will be number two, four previous keepers means that the present keeper is the fifth and you will be number six. Look out for several changes in quick succession, it could mean that the vehicle is problematical, or it could be due to the type of car.

The name of the keeper is covered by Data Protection and is not released by the DVLA. However the names and addresses of the last two keepers are shown on the V5C, the Vehicle Registration Document. You can contact those keepers to ask about the car. Please note that the keeper is not necessarily the owner – it may be a company car or belong to a third party.

What does it mean if a car is recorded on Car Data Check as being at high risk?

If the car is recorded as being at 'high risk' there is a chance that it is being sold fraudulently. You should not proceed with the purchase until Customer Services have fully investigated it on your behalf. Please note that if a car appears on this database, we are obliged to inform the company that registered it 'high risk' of the details of the check. You can email our Car Data Check Customer Service team.

In a Car Data Check, what does it mean if a car is recorded as a total loss or write-off?

As part of a Car Data Check, we check if the vehicle has been recorded as written-off by an insurance company due to a damage or theft-related insurance claim. A damage-related insurance claim means the vehicle has been involved in an accident and the insurer has decided that the vehicle is uneconomical to repair.

You should only proceed with a purchase once you are satisfied that the repairs have been carried out by a reputable repairer and that the car is roadworthy. A theft-related insurance claim indicates that the vehicle, at some time in its life, has been stolen and an insurance company has paid out a claim on it. In these circumstances the insurance company becomes the legal owner.

Please contact Customer Services, who will verify the current status of the vehicle for you. You can email our Car Data Check Customer Service team.

What happens if the information provided by a Car Data Check is wrong?

Car Data Check takes every precaution to ensure that the data supplied to you is correct and complete. However due to the complexity of the data providers it is possible that a piece of information is not passed to us. To ensure that you do not suffer a financial loss due to incorrect or incomplete data we are able to offer data insurance from Cardiff Pinnacle plc. This is included at no extra cost in the Car Data Check and covers the data provided up to a maximum of £30,000, or the purchase price (whichever is the lower), for two years.

What happens if I do a Car Data Check on a stolen car?

If a vehicle you are considering buying appears on the stolen vehicle database, we are obliged to inform the police. Customer Services will then contact you with any further information available. Do not consider proceeding with this purchase until you have received written confirmation from our Customer Services that it has been recovered. If you buy a stolen vehicle the true owner can repossess it.

What information can Car Data Check give me about past accidents?

Car Data Check will tell you if a car has been classed as a 'total loss' or 'write-off' by an insurance company. This means that the insurance company have paid the policy holder the full value of the car and have sent it to salvage. We cannot tell you if a car has been repaired by an insurance company and returned to the owner, as this is not recorded. Please note that we cannot tell you about damage to self-insured (such as large fleets of vehicles), third-party insured vehicles, or vehicles which were not covered by their insurance policy at the time of the damage.

Can you inspect a car for me before I decide to buy?

Buying a car is a major investment – one that you want to protect. And you'll also want to be sure that the vehicle you and your family are driving around in is safe. An AA Vehicle Inspection will give you peace of mind, and help you to protect your investment.

Benefits of an AA Vehicle Inspection

  • Get a full vehicle safety check and road test before you buy.
  • Benefit from an independent, professional 'second opinion'.
  • Use the vehicle inspection results when negotiating over price.