Why Run a Vehicle History Report or a VIN check | DMV.org
Knowing the history of a used car before you decide to buy one can save you a lot of money down the road. By ordering a vehicle history report (VHR), you can remove most of the guesswork to determine if a used car has been involved in accidents or had major repairs that may not make it worth your investment.
By obtaining a VIN lookup, you'll get essential information on your vehicle's history. This includes:
- Past ownership, including information such as:
- How many owners the car has had.
- Odometer readings when the vehicle changed hands.
- This can give you clues as to how hard a vehicle has been driven and provide a good estimate for its life expectancy.
- Liens on the vehicle.
- Purchasing a vehicle with a lien could result in repossession of the vehicle if the loan remains unpaid.
- Title & accident history, including accident reports, flood damage, and salvage title branding.
- A title check can also help you determine if the owner of the vehicle is the actual person selling you the car.
- Faulty odometer settings & rollback alerts.
- A seller may illegally turn back an odometer to give the appearance of lower mileage and increase the final sale price or bluebook value of a vehicle.
- “Lemon" determination.
- A VIN number lookup may flag some vehicles as a lemon per your state's Lemon Law and will show if the manufacturer has repurchased it.
Some VIN number checks may also include additional information, such as when a vehicle was serviced or if it was ever sold at auction.
To run a VIN lookup, first you'll need the car's vehicle identification number (VIN). You then have several different options:
- Obtain a basic free VHR through government-run public services.
- Purchase a more detailed VHR through a private service.
Run by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), VINCheck is a service which provides free VIN checks to the public. While not as detailed as the other reports, these free vehicle history reports do provide information on vehicles reported stolen but not recovered, or salvaged vehicles reported by cooperating NICB insurance companies.
National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVITIS)
Set up with the help of the federal government, the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVITIS) was designed to protect consumers from fraud, unsafe vehicles, and stolen cars. Federal law requires that businesses and agencies report to NMVITIS on a regular basis.
This agency connects drivers with various services that provide VIN lookups that are within legal requirements.
More Detailed VHR Options
A more comprehensive VIN lookup typically costs around $40 for a single report. Unlimited multiple reports can be obtained for a higher fee, which might be useful if you're looking at the history of multiple vehicles. For more information, visit our guide to obtaining single vs. multiple reports.
Private companies (like our approved partner) also offer a buyback guarantee, which promises to buy back any car purchased because of a faulty report as long as it meets their terms and conditions.
Get Your Detailed Vehicle History Report
In 3 Easy Steps!
Bill of Sale Form
You will likely need a bill of sale form whenever you buy a vehicle from, or sell one to, another person.
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