HP check for used cars

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NEW car sales will surge from today with the introduction of the 'L' registration plate and more used cars will reach the market as sellers trade up, writes Maria Scott.

Those buying a used car can now check its credentials through HPI Autodata, a trade database that has now been available to the public for a month. It holds information on whether there is an outstanding hire purchase agreement on a car, which would mean that the seller does not legally own it.

It will also show whether the car has been reported stolen, if the registration plate has been changed and whether it has been subject to a significant insurance claim for damage.

The service costs pounds 15, payable by credit card, debit card or cheque. Further information is available on (0722) 422422.

Meanwhile, Touche Ross, the accountants, is warning company car buyers to beware accessories on new cars bought after today. Those costing pounds 100 or more will be included in list prices and thus subject to tax on private use, which from next April will be assessed on a car's cost rather than engine size.