How to make sense of a history check | AA Cars

When you’re searching for your next car, it’s best to find out as much as you can about the vehicle’s past before deciding to buy or not.

A vehicle history check can help reassure you that it’s been well looked after, or alert you to any issues. A car history service from the AA can give you all the details you need about your prospective purchase.

There can be a lot to take in, so we’ve broken down the report to help you out. The report can be viewed online with a tab for each section, downloaded onto your computer or emailed to you in a document with all the information.

Report summary

This highlights any important concerns brought to light in the full report. It shows you at first glance if there are any issues – such as outstanding finance, mileage discrepancies or if the car has previously been declared a write-off.

You’ll also see any outstanding recall notices, with dates and details for each problem.If any issue is found, it’s recommended you call the vehicle’s manufacturer for more information.

And it includes a VIN and V5C registration document check- this shows whether the chassis number and vehicle serial number match.


This section goes into more detail on any issues that have been uncovered.

If there’s a problem with outstanding finance, you’ll find out more about the finance provider, agreement reference and type.If an alert was flagged for the vehicle’s condition, the report shows whether the vehicle has been written off by an insurance company, and describes which category – if any – the vehicle is in after being written off.

You can also check for any mileage discrepancies by comparing the vehicle’s mileage against the reported figures from the National Mileage Register.

For ultimate peace of mind, pair a vehicle history check with a vehicle inspection, performed by certified AA engineers. It’ll give you a clear idea of the vehicle’s condition and whether it’s worth buying.

Check results

Here, you’ll find a description of the vehicle’s main details– such as engine size, engine serial number, fuel type, date of UK registration, previous owners and CO2 emissions. You should compare these with the V5C document details to check that it all matches up.

This section also shows the vehicle ownership, condition and document status. The ownership area shows whether the vehicle is stolen, is on security watch or has had a plate transfer. The vehicle’s condition is also summarised again.

Vehicle manufacturer specification

This gives you the model name, vehicle performance, engine layout, dimensions, economy and drive type i.e. 2- or 4-wheel drive.

You’ll also find information on the vehicle from the DVLA, which shows all the main points about the model, such as the number plate, manufacture year, emissions and vehicle type approval.

Fuel economy

This shows you how much fuel you can expect to use over 12 months, the vehicle’s CO2 output and its annual Vehicle Excise Duty(VED) rate. The VED rate varies depending on whether the vehicle was registered before or after1 April 2017.Vehicles bought after this date will have a fixed rate charge following the first tax payment.

The emissions are shown alongside an A to M rating system.‘A’ is the most efficient and ‘M’ is the least.

Vehicle valuation

The figure shown on this page takes into account the vehicle’s age, average mileage and general condition. It also shows you how much a dealer would pay for the car. This figure may be lower than the price the seller has given, which could help you negotiate a more reasonable price.

Vehicle mileage check

Through the online report, you’re able to check whether there is a mileage discrepancy on the vehicle. By comparing the listed mileage against data from the National Mileage Register, you’re able to see if there is a difference.

If there is a discrepancy, that may be down to a fault with the instrument cluster which may have led to a replacement cluster being fitted. 

Check out the AA History Check’s sample report to see what you’re getting for your money when you buy one. From just £6 per vehicle, you’re able to find out the past of multiple vehicles at once and make a more informed decision when buying a vehicle.


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