When you are in the market for a used car, it is important to ask for a vehicle history report. It may seem like a waste of time, but they can be very informative in helping you make a sound decision. The only problem is, you are not quite sure what to look for before going through with your purchase.
These reports can be confusing and offer up a lot of information that you don't quite know what to do with, but this list seeks to help you out. It will fill you in on everything you need to know to be an informed buyer the next time you head to the dealership. Keep reading to learn about the ten things to look for on a vehicle history report!
10 Is There Any Listed Maintenance History?
Many times repair shops will report their work to different vehicle report companies, which is something you should take a look at. It will not only show you damages that may not have been reported in an official accident, but it will also show you the routine maintenance performed on the vehicle itself.
If it has regular tire and battery changes but hasn't had it done recently then you might be able to fetch a lower price based on this information. There are some vehicles with a history of certain parts breaking down after so many miles, so this could be something else to look for that could lower the price of the car.
9 Was It In An Accident?
You should always try to avoid purchasing a car that has been in any accidents, but sometimes you don't have that option. If the car you are looking to buy has gone toe to toe with another vehicle then you should make sure it has not sustained any structural damage or deployed its airbags.
These are two big red flags that you should steer clear of as the car is never the same after something like this happens. You want to invest your money in something that will last you years to come, instead of a piece of junk that will die after a few nights out on the town.
8 Has The Car Had Multiple Owners?
If a car has gone through multiple owners then it may be a sign that it has some serious recurring issues. You might not see anything else on the report, but that doesn't mean it is free and clear of any problems. If the vehicle you are pursuing has a long history, then it might be in your best interest to have a thorough examination done by a mechanic you know you can trust. The report will also tell you if a vehicle has been used commercially, like as a taxi or for a construction company, and if this is the case you might want to look elsewhere for a car.
7 Did The Title Transfer Across Multiple States?
It might not seem like a big deal if a car was transferred multiple times across state lines, but it is usually a sign of some sort of mischief. Often times when a car has been in an unreported accident or has some other issues, the owner will try to hide these facts by shipping their vehicle to another state.
It happens more often then you think and can end with you paying out of pocket for expenses you never knew existed. You should never let the seller trick you into thinking this is okay and you should always have a car thoroughly inspected before driving it off the lot in this scenario.
6 Did It Sustain Flood Or Fire Damage?
When a car is in a fire or a flood it never truly recovers from the damage. The main issue occurs within the engine as it should never be subjected to these kinds of conditions. The previous owner might have said they had it repaired, but no amount of repairs can ever make the car truly safe and free of any costly damages after it goes through something like this. If the car has been damaged by hail that is a nonissue as it is usually only structural and doesn't affect the integrity of the vehicle as a whole.
5 Are There Any Recalls?
This is something a lot of dealerships will try to slip by you because they don't want to be the one who has to take care of it. You should ensure that all active recalls on the car are handled before you drive off the lot as it can jeopardize the safety of your family. This doesn't mean you shouldn't buy the car if it has a recall, but it is a good rule of thumb to have it taken care of before you go through with your purchase.
4 What Is The Reported Odometer Reading?
It was common on older vehicles for sellers to turn back the odometer on the car to lessen its miles. The vehicle history report will have a reading of the previous miles on the vehicle, so if it is reading less than it did on the report, then you should find something else to purchase.
It is generally not an issue in cars with electronic odometers, but it does still happen as people change out the instrument panel for one with fewer miles. You should also look for discrepancies on the report as well in terms of the odometer reading as this can key you into someone messing with it in the past.
3 Is There A Lien On The Car?
A lien is something you have probably heard of if you have strolled around the title block a time or two. When a car's title has a lien on it, this means that the vehicle is not owned by the seller, but by the company who lent the person the money to buy the car.
If a report says that the car's title still has a lien, then you need to walk away from the sale immediately. This is usually only an issue you will find with private sellers, but it indicates that they do not have the right to sell the car and it is likely a scam.
2 Was It Previously Stolen?
The report will also tell you if the vehicle has been stolen in the past, or even still is considered stolen. If it is stolen then obviously you should walk away from the sale and contact the local authorities, but if it was previously stolen you still shouldn't go through with the sale.
These cars have usually been tampered with as thieves strip them of their most valuable parts and replace them with cheaper, less efficient pieces. You can never truly know the extent of the tampering and the replaced parts could cause your car to break down sooner than expected.
1 Did It Recently Fail Its Emission Test?
This only applies to people living in areas where your car is required to undergo an emissions test, such as Ohio, Kansas, and Oklahoma. If the car has previously been recorded to have failed its emissions test and hasn't passed one since then it is a good sign that you should pass on the car.
This usually indicates that the catalytic converter has gone bad, which is a costly fix that can bleed your wallet dry. You don't want to spend hundreds to thousands of dollars fixing up a vehicle because you forgot to check this on your vehicle history report.