Buying a used automobile is obviously a lot cheaper than buying a new one.
However, even though it can be an extremely successful and cost-effective purchase, this transaction includes inherent risks which may result in a costly mistake.
Due to their nature, some automotive problems are difficult to detect even through a comprehensive pre-purchase mechanical inspection.
Obtaining the full background of the desired vehicle is essential to knowing what the buyer is getting into, before it’s too late.
As the old saying goes, you can’t judge a book by its cover and the same principle applies to used-cars as well.
Running a VIN search and having a vehicle’s history thoroughly examined is a critical step in exposing serious past problems and an integral part of the used car buying process.
What is a VIN?
VIN stands for Vehicle Identification Number, which is composed of a string of 17 alphanumeric characters (a combination of capital letters and digits).
The VIN serves as the motor vehicle’s unique fingerprint or DNA, which is assigned to every new car by the manufacturer during its production, in order to differentiate it from other vehicles.
No two cars have the same code and when decoded, this standardized ‘serial number’ identifies specific information about the car, such as country of origin, model year, manufacturer, vehicle type and style, engine size and type, manufacturing plant info and more.
A VIN can be used for the purposes of ordering replacement parts for repairs, tracking safety recalls, car registration, establishing auto insurance, identifying and tracing stolen cars, warranty claims or for ordering vehicle history checks.
What Is a Vehicle History Report?
As the term suggests, a vehicle history report provides the customer with wealth of reliable information in an easy-to-understand format about the past of a particular used car, motorcycle, truck or recreational vehicle, from the time it was initially sold.
Companies in this industry, are responsible for gathering this vital data from multiple databases and public information sources, such as:
- Departments of Motor Vehicles (DMV)
- Consumer protection agencies
- Service stations
- Recycling facilities
- Salvage auctions
- Insurance companies
- Police and fire departments
- Car manufactures
- Auto dealers
- Collision repair shops
- Extended warranty companies
- Rental companies
- Towing services
- Import / export companies
All the records are then combined into a single comprehensive document which includes all the information in one place.
This valuable data, which includes most major events in the vehicle’s lifetime, can have a significant impact on the safety level, reliability, longevity as well as true market value of the car which is offered for sale.
What Does The Report Contain?
Every report contains vital detailed information that can impact buying or selling decisions regarding a given second-hand vehicle.
The contents of a report vary from one service provider to another; however, here are examples of data that may be found on such a document:
- Car Specifications
- Other Damage (fire, flood, etc.)
- Title Information
- Title Brand Checks (salvage, junk, reconstructed. lemon. etc.)
- State of The Title
- Ownership History
- Odometer Readings
- Lemon History
- Service Records
- Repair Information
- Sale Information
- Registration and Inspection Information
- Manufacturer Recall Information
- Auction History
- Insurance Total Loss Event Check
- Structural Damage
- Vehicle Use Check (taxi, rental, fleet, lease, etc.)
- Airbag Deployment
- Warranty Information
- Open Loan / Lien Information
- Theft Checks
- Seizure, Impound and Towing Data
- An extremely effective tool to counter car-shopping stress and fear.
- A great way to discover the information that the seller may hold back.
While many used car dealers are completely trustworthy and honest, the industry has its share of crooks, liars, fraudsters and scammers.
- The document provides important insights that may directly influence the realistic value of a vehicle.
- Knowledge is power. Especially in tough car buying negotiations.
- Many times, a quick VIN lookup helps avoiding a horrible deal or a scam in a matter of minutes.
- It significantly minimizes the potential risks of buying an unsafe vehicle or one with critical unseen defects or flaws.
What Do VIN Check Sites Offer?
Online car history report websites gather, aggregate and distribute data which is collected from federal and state government agencies, non-profit organizations and other 3rd party automotive industry sources in all 50 US states.
Such tools offer a quick and easy way to research used cars online and buy a car with far more confidence.
Typical data sources may include organizations such as:
- NMVTIS – The National Motor Vehicle Title Information System
- NICB – The National Insurance Crime Bureau
- NADA – National Automobile Dealers Association
- NHTSA – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
- NVS – National Vehicle Services
- FMCSA – The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
In most cases, subscribers to this service will be able to order a plan that offers multiple reports, if they’re shopping around, comparing and considering a number of vehicles or alternatively, a single report if they only need in-depth information for one vehicle – just before buying it.
Typical customers of such VIN lookup services include private used car shoppers, sellers and dealers.
Paying for a Car History Report with PayPal
Many popular online VIN number check providers in the market accept a variety of payment methods, including PayPal.
Before Choosing: Features to Consider
In order to make sure that you receive optimal benefit from using this type of service, it is crucial to conduct proper research and verify that certain features that you need are actually being offered by the companies that you consider.
Doing so will help you decide which tool is the best fit for your individual needs.
Such features may include:
- Payment via PayPal
- Bulk Pricing
- Dealership Program
- NMVTIS Approved
- Search by US License Plate Number
- Exclusive Data Sources