With the demise of the tax disc fast approaching, we thought it useful to recap some of the online sources of data about your vehicle, which owners/keepers/drivers can check themselves for free at any time. Over the past ten years, DVLA have made a range of data available for people to use for free, some about their own vehicle, others available for anyone to use. In addition to checking all the vintage vehicles you own, do note that these links are also useful to check a work pool car/hire car that you may be asked to drive.
1 What marque does the DVLA think your vehicle is? Visit http://www.rac.co.uk/products-services/car-data-checks/ and enter your registration plate, then click 'buy now' but note you are NOT committing to a transaction. The next screen will give three pieces of information: make (in DVLA speak, and note any spaces), year of manufacture, and engine size in cc. There is also a field 'model' which only seems to be populated on certain more recent vehicles. Do note that it is important to type this marque exactly as it appears into the next website. Checking three similar Ford Cargo trucks of the 1980s shows marques recorded as FORD, IVECO-FORD and IVECO FORD (the latter with a space).
2 Does DVLA think your car has Vehicle Excise Duty and an MOT? https://www.gov.uk/check-vehicle-tax is a new site, currently in beta, which allows you to click the green 'check now' then enter registration number and vehicle make, and click search. You are then presented with two coloured boxes. On the left we have VED status (the options are taxed until xx xx/SORN/untaxed expired xx xx) and on the right we have MOT status. The options here appear to be (tick) 'MOT expiry date xx xx', (cross) 'no MOT expired xx xx', or 'no details held by DVLA'
3 Previous MOT attempts can be checked at https://www.gov.uk/check-mot-history-vehicle to use this service you need the registation mark, and either the serial number of the most recent pass/fail certificate or the reference number from the most recently issued V5C. This allows you to view all fail and advisory items from previous MOT attempts, all at a glance.
4 Insurance status can be verified at http://www.askmid.com there is a free check intended for vehicle owners/drivers, as well as the option to pay £4 for a more detailed report which names the other insurer (intended for checking the other vehicle involved in a car accident).
5 When buying a vehicle, it is always prudent to undertake a HPI check. Your writer has used http://www.autocheck.co.uk many times (which is a service from experian) which currently offers five checks for £24.99 or one check for £19.99. Doing a HPI check is the only way to see whether a vehicle record has a 'scrapped' marker or not. There are other providers available (though note that some require the VIN to be inputted before they display information - the experian site listed does not mandate this).
We would encourage every vehicle owner to undertake steps 1 to 4 in respect of all vehicles you currently own, and in respect of a discrepancy to contact either DVLA or their own insurer as a matter of urgency. When buying a vehicle, we would also recommend that step 5 is undertaken.
It is good practice to do items 2 and 4 every time you set out on a trip, for your peace of mind.
If readers encounter a discrepancy, FBHVC would be grateful if they could get in touch so that they can resolve it with DVLA..