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Glossary of Critical Checks


Colour Changes
When a vehicle’s exterior colour has been changed, the DVLA must be informed. This information, including the original vehicle colour and the change date, will be noted in the vehicle’s report.


This check tells you if any vehicle has been recorded by the DVLA as being exported outside the UK.

The DVLA should be notified any time a vehicle is exported to any country outside of the UK. If the vehicle is returned to the UK, the DVLA will no longer mark it as exported. When a seller is not aware that the DVLA has recorded a vehicle as exported, this indicates they do not know its complete history. Purchasing this vehicle from them should be considered high risk.


This check tells you if a vehicle has been used outside of the UK in the past, according to DVLA records.

If you are already aware you are purchasing a vehicle from abroad, this should not be a problem. If you were unaware that a vehicle was imported, you should be made aware of why it was previously used there and why it was imported into the UK.


Plate Changes
Since April 1990, a plate change signifies that a vehicle has had a legitimate registration plate change.

While people do change their plates in an effort to personalise their vehicle, others do this in an effort to conceal the vehicle’s history. Potential buyers can use plate change information to determine any questions they may need to ask the seller to ensure the vehicle’s history is clear.


This check offers information on any vehicle that is currently listed as stolen in the Police National Computer, as well as on the Motor Insurance Anti-Fraud Theft Register (MIAFTR). The vehicle’s VIN number should match the registration plate. When they do not, this is a good indication the vehicle is stolen.

Be aware that you should never purchase any vehicle recorded as stolen. It remains the property of the person or organisation from which it was stolen. You could lose the vehicle, along with the money you paid for it.


Scrapped makes you aware that a vehicle has been marked as scrapped, according to the DVLA. Vehicles marked scrapped are only suitable for scrap yards and should never be on the road. These vehicles should not be purchased, as they are unsafe.

It is illegal to knowingly attempt to sell a scrapped vehicle.


Unscrapped is used to denote a vehicle that was once listed as scrapped by the DVLA but has since had this marker removed. You will want to explore this further to determine why this occurred.

Knowing why a vehicle was scrapped and later unscrapped will give you the information you need to determine if this is a safe vehicle to purchase.


VIC Inspected
VIC inspected vehicles have either had their identity questioned or have been written off by an insurance company and later were attempted to return to the road. You should be very suspicious of these vehicles.

This test is performed at a DVSA centre and compares details maintained by the DVLA against the actual car itself.


Written Off
A vehicle that has been written off has been deemed a total loss claim by insurance due to damage or the fact it was stolen and has gone unrecovered. This check is performed using data supplied by the insurance industry.

A vehicle that has been written off should not be purchased. It could be stolen, meaning it is still the property of the person or organisation it was stolen from.


Vehicle Details

Body Style
This refers to the vehicle’s physical shape and offers an idea of the vehicle’s size.


This is the vehicle’s colour as the DVLA has recorded it. Basic colours are used, such as red, black, and white.


Engine Size
Engine size details the actual size of the engine and is suggestive of the vehicle’s power.


Fuel Type
This denotes what type of fuel is required to operate the vehicle. Typically, this is diesel or petrol, though there are other alternatives, such as electricity.


The manufacturer is the company that made the vehicle, such as Renault, Ford, and Nissan.


This is the name given to the specific vehicle by a manufacturer to differentiate it from other vehicles they made. For example, Vauxhall makes the Corsa and Mokka X.

No. of Doors
This details the number of doors on the vehicle. The boot may be included in this count, meaning you may see a vehicle listed as having 3 or doors.


No. of Gears
This details the number of gears in the vehicle and includes forward and reverse gears. Typically, you’ll see six gears, with five forward and one reverse gear.


No. of Seats
This details how many seats are in the vehicle.


Transmission Type
This refers to how the driver changes gears in the vehicle and is usually automatic or manual.


Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
This is a one-of-a-kind serial number that the automobile industry uses to identify individual vehicles. It is often associated with a specific vehicle registration number. It is very common for criminals to alter a stolen vehicle’s registration plate. This is why it is important to make certain the VIN number matches that on the number plate. This is a good indication the vehicle isn’t stolen.


Terms Related to Ownership

Manufacture Date
This refers to the date recorded by the DVLA as the date the vehicle was manufactured.


No. of Previous Keepers
This refers to the number of owners who have legally retained the vehicle since its manufacture date. The DVLA must be informed anytime a vehicle’s ownership changes.

A large number of previous keepers could be a sign of a mechanical problem. Any vehicle with a high number of previous keepers should be investigated before it is purchased.


Registration Date
This is the date recorded by the DVLA as the first time a vehicle was registered with them. Legally, a vehicle must be registered before it can be used.


Vehicle Age
This is vehicle’s approximate age and is calculated using the date of manufacturer to today.


Terms Related to Engine Specification

Brake Horse Power
This is an imperial value that is used to measure a vehicle’s power. The higher the value, the greater the amount of power the vehicle has. This term is a historical reference to the Industrial Revolution when steam-powered engines were measured by how many horses it could replace.


Cam Shift Type
This details how the camshaft is configured in the engine.


Cylinder Layout
This describes how the engine cylinders are laid out in the vehicle. For example, ‘V’ or ‘inline.’


Engine Alignment
This technical term details how the engine sits in the vehicle. It describes how the engine is mounted in relation to the long axis and the crankshaft.


Engine No.
This reference number is specific to the vehicle’s engine, where it is etched. It should be checked before purchasing a used vehicle as it helps verify a vehicle’s identity.


Engine Position
This term refers to where the engine is located in the car and is usually either in the front or the rear.


Euro Status
A European engine status marker value


Fuel Delivery
This details what system used to put fuel into the engine. Injection is the most common method of fuel delivery.


Kilowatt Output
The metric measurement of brake horsepower, kilowatt output measures an engine’s power output.


No. of Cylinders
This details the number of engine cylinders found in the vehicle.


No. of Valves
This refers to the number of valves the engine possesses.


Other Specifications

0 -60 mph Time
This details the length of time (in seconds) it takes for the vehicle to travel from 0mph to 60mph.


Derivative Details
This is information specific to the manufacturer that serves as a unique reference code to the model. It details the dates during which the derivative was produced.


Max Speed
This details the highest speed at which the vehicle can travel.


Model Details
This is information specific to the manufacturer that serves as a unique reference code to the model. It details the dates during which the model was produced.


Paint Colour Code
This is information specific to the manufacturer that details the vehicle’s colour. Manufacturers may have their own way of classifying/ naming a vehicle’s colour. This information is beneficial when trying to colour match the vehicle.


Vehicle Height
This is the distance between the vehicle’s base and the vehicle chassis’s highest point.


Vehicle Length
This is the distance between the front of the vehicle and its rear.


Vehicle Type
This describes the class of vehicle, such as ‘car.’


Vehicle Weight
Measured in kilograms, this is the vehicle’s gross weight.


Vehicle Width
This is the measure of the vehicle’s width at its widest point.