What Does a Vehicle History Report Tell You About a Used Car?

Vehicle History Check

When shopping for a used car, it’s important to take into account the current condition of the car, and also the vehicle history. How the last owner treated the car will determine the car’s condition, price, and any outstanding problems. 

A vehicle history report will provide you with information about a car’s past ownership, accident history, title status, mileage, and other information that cannot be determined solely from a multi-point inspection. 

What Does a Vehicle History Check Cover? 

Junk & Salvage Title 

The title status is a good indicator of how the car was previously cared for and whether or not it is safe to drive. Having a salvage title means that a car has suffered significant damage in the past and was declared a “total loss” – meaning it is not economically repairable – by the insurance company. 

That being said, the reason the car is still up for sale is because the insurance company likely sold it to a repair facility where it was repaired and required to pass a basic safety inspection. Then, it was branded with a salvage or junk title. Buying a car with a salvage title can be helpful for those with a tight budget, but it is important to remember that these cars may be prone to mechanical problems. You should get as much information as possible before signing off on a junk or salvage-title car. 

Reported Accidents 

Being aware of all the reported accidents in a car’s past will give you an idea of the car’s condition and value. A history check will gather data from DMVs, insurance companies, repair shops, and even law enforcement agencies to get as much detail on the car’s past collisions as possible. 

Having data on the car’s accident history may even give you an opportunity to negotiate the asking price if the report shows issues.

Manufacturer Warranty & Recalls 

One of the benefits of buying a used car is that you have more data on the specific make and model of the car. Getting a history check will determine whether there have been any recalls on the vehicle, which would likely mean the manufacturer was responsible for a defect that compromised the car’s safety and issued a recall

This will also tell you if the recall was taken care of and repaired by the past owner or if it is still an open recall – meaning the issue has still not been addressed. Buying a car with a recall is not necessarily a bad thing, assuming you have taken the necessary steps to ensure that the car is still a safe option. 

Fire, Flood & Hail Damage 

The fire, flood and hail damage portion of the history check covers damage that is not due to car accidents. While hail damage is common and easily repairable, damage by fire and floods is not as easy to fix and may have caused underlying issues. 

Being aware of the damage that has compromised the quality of your car is important to avoid unforeseen, expensive repairs in the future and to ensure that the car is safe. Environmental damage can also be the reason for a car getting a junk and salvage title, so it is important to never rule them out when inspecting the history of a used car. 

Odometer Verification 

The odometer measures the total number of miles that the car has driven and is typically the first indicator of a used car’s value. A car with low mileage will be seen as more valuable, which is why it is important to have the odometer verified in a history check. 

Simply checking to see what this number is at the time of purchase will not determine if it is accurate. In some cases, sellers rollback the odometer to trick car buyers into spending more than the car is actually worth. Thankfully, a history check will be able to help you avoid being a victim of an odometer rollback by verifying whether or not the number on the odometer is accurate based on past records.

Who Should Perform a History Check? 

With the used car’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), you or your technician can get your vehicle history report online. Enter the VIN into an online VIN search engine and it will pull up all of the information reported on that specific vehicle. 

Get a SureSale 

Get a comprehensive pre-purchase inspection with SureSale. The SureSale vehicle quality report includes a vehicle history check, multi-point inspection, and road test to give you confidence with facts when buying a used car.