How to check the previous owners of a car

How to check the previous owners of a car

Posted: 11/03/2021

One of the most popular questions we are asked is about the number of previous keepers or owners a used car has. An online car owner check will provide you with the number of previous owners, however the exact number of the vehicle previous ownership is also displayed on the vehicle registration document (V5C). You should never buy a used car without reviewing these. The V5C document logbook will provide you the details of the car's previous two keepers, whilst the vehicle history check should be able to show you the number of previous keepers.

The reason this is a popular questions when people are buying a used car, is that the number of previous owners, and decrease the value of the car. Therefore, some sellers may not be fully honest on how many owners the car has had. It is also import to check the overall history of the vehicle when buying a second hand car, to make sure they are no additional warnings or red flags. In regards to the car owner check, if there is a high number of owners this could indicate an underlying problem with the car.

How to complete a Car Owners Check

As with most things in our modern world, they are several ways you can easily check the how many owners the vehicle has had. Here are a few ways this can be done.

Ask the Seller

This is the most obvious answer, however, don't just take their word for it. Ask the seller of the car to show you the V5C logbook as you will be able to see the information on here. Make note of this number to make sure you can verify this data against an online Reg Check. As well as making note of the number of owners, take note of the VIN Number, and Dates shown on the logbook.

You may be shocked to see the number of times comparing these two pieces of information can bring about a discrepancy. If you do see a difference in the number shown against the previous owner field, this could be a red flag. This could be due to a delay in the DVLA updating the system, but in most cases this can be caused by car dealers trying to inflate the asking price or using marketing wording to make it appear more appealing. For example, have you seen the wording "One owner from new", you should be aware that this doesn't mean you will be the second vehicle owner, you will be in fact the third vehicle owner. A bit of a difference, and slightly misleading.

Online Reg Check including Number of Previous Owners

Any registration number processed through our online car history check service will be quickly checked against multiple data sources, such as the DVLA, and provide a 25+ point vehicle history report. This is a far more in-depth check compared to a simple owner check and is also often cheaper. This includes simple checks such as the number of registered previous owners, mileage, plate changes, when the car was first registered, as well as more in-depth checks such as outstanding finance, write-off, scrapped, police stolen and more.

How do I complete a car owner check and find other details about previous keepers – names, addresses?

The name of the current keeper of the car is covered by Data Protection and the DVLA do not release it to any online Reg Check company. This update means that no matter how hard you try and how many check companies you use you will not be able to view or find any private data online, such as the previous car keepers names and address.

However, the names and addresses of the last two keepers should be shown on the V5C. If you are looking for specific or additional information regarding further previous owner or owners, such as names and addresses, this can only be requested direct from the DVLA (details here)

Why should I pay for a car owner check when it’s freely available?

When buying a car, you are relying and trusting the seller that they are telling you the truth about the car, car history, and how many previous owners it has had. You will have read we have mentioned about that it is important to check the V5C document and logbook to locate any owner information. However, it has been known that this method is foolproof. They are many scams involve the car's previous owner not returning the old copy of the V5C to the DVLA, or create fake V5C documents to sell stolen or written off cars. By cross referencing the details on the V5C and Vin Number, online vehicle check companies will be able to highlight any possible discrepancies and help highlight any incorrect information or cloned vehicles.

How many previous keepers is too many?

Everybody wants to purchased a used car which only has 1 previous owner. The ideal behind is that you know how the car has been treated since its production, rather than having multiple owners who treat and the drive car very differently.

However, there is no definite answer of how many previous owner’s is too many. Obviously less owners the better, but the exact figure is hard to pinpoint as it widely depends on the age of the vehicle. For example, a car which is 20 years would expect to have more registered previous owners than a car which is only 4 years old.

According to a recent IHS Markit study, the average length of owner a vehicle was a recorded at 79.3 months, or nearly seven years. However, we have found that in recent years with more PCP payment options, this is reducing down to 3-4 years.

However, as well as looking at how many previous owners the car has had, you should also look at how each owner has treated the car, and if it is in a good condition.