It would be nice to know we could trust someone selling a used car to be honest about the car’s repair history, but the reality is we can’t. Whether the dealer is purposely being dishonest or he truly doesn’t know the history of the car, you can’t risk spending good money on a car with hidden problems. Save yourself this headache by purchasing a vehicle history report on the car before you buy it.
Information Provided on Vehicle History Reports
In order to run a vehicle history report on a used car, you will need the Vehicle Identification Number, or VIN. The National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) is a service of the Federal Department of Justice and provides consumers with several options for purchasing vehicle reports. A report will cost under $10 and will save you much more in the long run. No matter which service you choose to purchase a report from, you will receive the following information:
Title Information. The report will provide the current state of the title and the last title date. Verifying title information is important for preventing auto fraud and theft.
Brand History. When a vehicle suffers serious damage, its title is branded with a designation indicating how and how badly it was damaged. A vehicle history report will tell you if the vehicle’s status is “junk,” “salvage,” “flood,” “collision,” or some other descriptive designation.
Odometer Reading. Dishonest car dealers will sometimes roll back the odometer to trick consumers into thinking the car has fewer miles than it actually does. A vehicle history report will reveal the last known odometer reading for the car which will allow you to compare it to the reading on the car.
Total Loss History. Even cars that have been deemed a “total loss” following an accident or natural disaster can be cleaned up and sold again. A vehicle history report will tell you if this is the case with the car you want to purchase.
Salvage History. If the vehicle has ever been in a junk or salvage yard, the history report will reveal that fact. Knowing this could prevent you from buying an unsafe vehicle.
A vehicle history report purchased through a NMVTIS provider will be concise. If the vehicle has no history of major damage, the report will be “clean,” which is what you want. If any of the key indicators is flagged, you may choose not to purchase the vehicle or to negotiate a lower price, but at least you have the information to make a decision. Please note!! These vehicle history reports do NOT tell you whether the vehicle has ever been in an accident. They only tell you if the database they use has any evidence of an accident at the time you request a report. CarFax and Autocheck have data from different sources, and these sources have holes in them. So do not solely depend on the reports. The best way to determine if the car you are considering has been in a wreck, is to take it to a body shop and pay for it to be inspected.
Hiding Known Problems Is Auto Fraud
Running a vehicle history report before buying a used car is a smart move. However, if you bought a vehicle from a dealer and later found out it had serious damage, you may have a case of auto fraud against the dealer. Contact The Consumer Law Group at 804-282-7900 for more information about auto fraud.