Does the number of owners impact the value of your car?

    How many people sat in your driver’s seat? One, two, or more? The number of previous owners a car or van has can impact its condition, as well as its value on the resale market

    Although there isn’t one fixed rule linking the number of car owners to vehicle valuation, single-owner vehicles generally retain more value over time than those that have been passed through multiple hands. 

    While ownership history isn’t the only factor shaping your car’s worth – maintenance, mileage, and emissions compliance also play a role – it’s essential to keep in mind if you’re thinking of buying or selling your vehicle

    Vehicle history and ownership details

    documents with car over them
    How many owners a car has had can impact its resale value.

    Vehicle history reports offer valuable insights into a car’s condition, previous maintenance, and past owners. Using government records, insurance databases, service records, and a car’s V5C logbook, these reports provide a comprehensive overview of the vehicle’s past. 

    Ownership details are an important part of this history. Typically, proof of ownership comes in the form of a vehicle title or registration issued by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA). This shows who a car or van legally belongs to; that owner has the right to facilitate transactions, manage insurance and taxes, and resolve motoring disputes. If you give, receive, or purchase a car, this transfer of ownership must be registered with the DVLA. 

    Proof of ownership documents include: 

    ✅ V5C logbook – The V5C logbook is the main proof of vehicle ownership in the UK. Also referred to as the car’s registration document or logbook, the V5C lists the legal owner and keeper of that car or van. Every time a car changes owners, its logbook must be updated and sent back to the DVLA for re-registration. The DVLA then issues a new registration document in the new owner’s name. This document also lists all past vehicle owners and the car’s history. 

    ✅ Bill of sale – A bill of sale is the proof of transaction during the transfer of ownership from seller to buyer. This legal document outlines sale details, parties involved, vehicle specifications, length of ownership and transfer dates, and sales price. 

    ✅ Financing agreements – Finance documents detailing how a car is paid for, whether that be via HP or PCP financing, personal car leasing, or being bought outright. All agreements will name the current vehicle owner. 

    By scrutinising ownership details, buyers can gauge a car’s reliability and make informed purchasing decisions. See our comprehensive guide on proof of ownership for more.

    Impact of past ownership

    What would cause a car to rack up several owners over a few years? While changes in ownership can be circumstantial, they can also signal ongoing vehicle issues. 

    Ownership history impacts both buyers and sellers in five key ways: 

    1. Buyer confidence – A clean ownership history with few owners instills confidence in the vehicle’s reliability and maintenance history, making it more appealing to buyers. This can help you get more money for your vehicle when selling your car

    2. Resale value – Buyers often consider the number of previous owners when assessing a car’s potential resale value. Single-owner vehicles typically command higher prices due to perceived better care and maintenance. On the flip side, the perception that multiple owners equates to mechanical or electrical problems often leads to greater depreciation and lower resale values. 

    3. Transparency and trust Connected to buyer confidence, providing comprehensive ownership details and having a full vehicle history report fosters transparency between buyers and sellers. Being open about a car’s ownership and condition history helps facilitate smoother transactions.

    4. Risk assessment – Few buyers are likely to go for a car that’s been in a huge accident or mechanical issues, and even fewer are likely to go for one where this information hasn’t been disclosed. Ownership history helps buyers assess the level of risk associated with purchasing a used car or buyers can weigh against price and necessity.

    5. Negotiation leverage – Buyers may use information about multiple owners as leverage during negotiations to secure a lower purchase price or additional concessions from the seller. Sellers can also use this information to their advantage.

    Single vs. multiple previous car owners

    man driving a car
    Cars that have only had one previous owner are likely to sell for more money on the resale market than vehicles with two or more past owners.

    Single-owner cars

    Cars that have only had one previous owner, also known as single-owner cars, hold significant importance in the UK resale market. These vehicles were typically purchased new and often exhibit better maintenance and care, instilling confidence in buyers about their overall condition. 

    A single-owner history also suggests consistent usage patterns and potentially lower mileage. Single-owner vehicles will most likely come with comprehensive service records verifying these facts, as well as any repairs, accidents, or parts replacements. 

    This transparency and condition documentation contribute to the perceived reliability of single-owner vehicles on the resale market. Consequently, they typically garner higher demand and are able to command a premium price. 

    Multiple-owner cars

    Buying or selling a vehicle that’s had multiple owners isn’t necessarily a negative. However, research is essential to make sure you’re making an informed decision. 

    You can assess the condition and ownership history of multiple-owner vehicles via:

    Maintenance and service history – Don’t buy blind! When purchasing a used car, ask for comprehensive records to gauge the level of care and maintenance the car has received. The vehicle service history reports tune-ups, past accidents, title issues, or other significant events in the life of the car. Look for regular maintenance and any major repairs or replacements performed.

    Documentation – Review the vehicle’s V5C logbook to review past title registration and the number of previous owners.  

    Vehicle inspection – Conduct a comprehensive inspection, checking for signs of wear, damage, or neglect. Have a professional mechanic inspect the car’s mechanical components to identify any potential issues. Does the state of the vehicle match the previous owner’s reports? 

    Ownership transitions – How often has this car changed hands? Inquire about the reasons for previous owners selling the vehicle to uncover any potential red flags. This information should also be recorded in the V5C logbook

    It’s important to know how many owners a vehicle has had, but remember: condition and reliability are more important than how many people have sat in the driver’s seat.


    Can I find out how many owners a car has had?

    Yes, you can discover how many previous owners a vehicle has had via its V5C logbook, bill or sale, financing documents, or vehicle history report. Alternatively, you can ask the seller for ownership details, but be sure to verify these against information from the DVLA. This is especially important with rental cars or loaned vehicles, as they are more likely to have previously had a diversity of drivers.

    Read our comprehensive guide on proof of ownership for more.

    What does zero previous owners mean?

    If a car or van has zero previous owners, this means that the current seller is the first registered owner of the car. The vehicle was most likely purchased new and has not been transferred from any other individuals or entities.

    Should you purchase a car that has had zero previous owners, you will be its second owner. 

    Does ‘previous owners’ include the current car owner?

    No, the term ‘previous owners’ typically excludes a vehicle’s current owner. ‘Previous owners’ refers to individuals or entities who owned the vehicle before the current driver. 

    The person who holds a car or van’s proof of ownership is considered its “current owner” or “current registered keeper” of the car.

    How can I track the value of my car?

    If you’re not sure what your car’s value is to begin with, it’s hard to know if the number of past owners can affect its price.

    All vehicles depreciate at varying rates, with no rule of averages accurately describing any one car’s changing value. Motorway’s Car Value Tracker provides a free, reliable monthly price alert for up to six vehicles at once. 

    Follow changes to your car’s value to choose the best time to sell, and make informed choices about investments in your car’s maintenance.

    Ready to sell your car?

    Want to read more about owning, valuing, and selling your car? Check out more of our guides here, covering everything from depreciation to maintaining your car’s value. Understand your car’s worth in the wider market.