Do you need a Previous Owner Check before buying a Used Car

April 11, 2023 by Zoe Hicks – 3 mins read

Buying a car isn’t cheap and is still one of the most expensive assets you’ll likely purchase. So doesn’t it make sense to find out everything about a used car before handing over your cash? Motorscan explains why carrying out a previous car owner check is definitely worth it.

When buying a second-hand car, one question that regularly arises is whether performing a previous owner check is essential. After all, what information is gleaned from performing the check that makes the data vital? Conundrum or not, Motorscan tasked itself with getting to the bottom of this ‘shall I, shan’t I’ question to discover whether knowing the number of owners is an advantage!

Why is it important to know how many owners a car has had?

A previous owner check will ultimately tell you how many owners the vehicle has had in its lifetime. While on the surface, it may not appear to be information you need, actually knowing how many owners a car has had can tell you quite a lot. For example, a vehicle with several owners over a relatively short period may indicate possible reliability issues with the car with the constant need to overload the vehicle. Similarly, a car with multiple previous owners may have impacted its general dependability and performance, with different owners all having their own driving styles and servicing and maintenance preferences, including how often the vehicle is serviced. Performing a previous owners car check allows you to understand the impact of a high owner turnover on the car’s overall quality, giving you pause for thought and possibly saving you from a vehicle full of costly trouble.

How to find out a car’s previous owners?

It’s super easy to find out the owner history of a vehicle with Motorscan. As well as providing you with an abundance of vehicle history data, our free car check will advise you when a V5 logbook was last updated, possibly indicating when the last keeper changed. In addition, our premium car check service will display how many previous owners a car had, including when the current and previous keeper acquired the vehicle, allowing you to glean how long the last two keepers kept the car.

How many owners are too many?

As a general rule of thumb, a used car of, say, ten years will ideally have had three or fewer owners and the fewer, the better. Indeed, the principal reason for finding the elusive vehicle with one previous owner is that it’s been subject to a consistent driving style and, most likely, regular maintenance and servicing. The flip side is a car of the same age that has passed between multiple owners. By the time the fifth or sixth owner buys it for £2,000 or £3,000, will they have kept up with servicing and maintenance or cared for the car the same way owner number one or even two did? It’s why cars with lower owner numbers undoubtedly retain a good value as they’re considered better quality cars, similar to vehicles with low mileage.

What is the difference between owners and keepers?

It may be assumed by most that the owner and registered keeper are the same people, and whilst it’s possible, it’s not always the case. For example, a car’s owner is the person who purchased the vehicle or perhaps received it as a gift. On the other hand, the registered keeper (the person appearing on the V5 logbook) is the primary user of the car. One such example would be a company car. The employee is the registered keeper responsible for parking or speeding fines, road tax, MOT, and insurance. The vehicle owner would be the company responsible for ensuring the vehicle is insured by the person with permission to drive it.

Does a car check reveal the previous owner’s details?

No, you won’t be able to find any sensitive information on previous owners due to data protection legislation, including their names and addresses, which only the DVLA are allowed to retain.


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