Vehicle History Check: What, Why and How

Vehicle History

When you’re in the market for a used car, conducting a vehicle history check is a crucial step you must not skip for any reason. It will give you essential information about a used car’s past and help you decide whether the vehicle is worth the asking price.

How to Conduct a Vehicle History Check?

You can conduct a vehicle history check the easy way or the hard way. It’s up to you which method you prefer.

The easy way entails letting a vehicle history-checking service do it. You just need the vehicle identifier number (i.e., chassis number) to commence your checks. Vehicle history checking services are available online and, by using them, you can generate a comprehensive vehicle history report within minutes.

Vehicle report providers collect and aggregate data from various primary and secondary sources. They standardize, organize and map the information to be readily comprehensible and usable, then apply modeling techniques to calculate car values.

The hard way involves conducting the history check yourself. You can ask the seller about the car’s history. After that, you must manually verify the information you get by talking to mechanics, checking records at auto shops, and queueing at government offices.

Why Do You Need a Vehicle History Report?

Wouldn’t you want to know if the car you’re planning to buy had been involved in an accident, how much of its original parts had been replaced, and whether it had been declared a total loss? Most car buyers would.

The following are the specific ways a vehicle history report can help you assess a used car for sale:

1. Uncover Hidden Damage

A vehicle history report can reveal previous accidents and the extent of the damage the car suffered. Even if a vehicle looks perfect on the outside, it could have hidden issues like frame damage or a compromised safety system that may not be immediately apparent.

Knowing the full extent of past damage will help you avoid costly repairs down the line or at least allow you to account for the accident history in your offer price.

2. Verify Mileage

Odometer fraud, where the mileage is rolled back to increase the vehicle’s value, is a real concern. A history check from a trustworthy vehicle data aggregator will give you the mileage logged by an independent car inspection service and alert you if there’s mileage tampering.

3. Identify Title Problems

Vehicle reports can disclose title issues, such as salvage titles that indicate an insurance company has deemed the car a total loss. Buying a vehicle without knowing its title status could lead to significant legal and financial problems. Even if you were to proceed with the purchase, you don’t have to go into it deluded or misinformed.

4. Check for Recalls and Warranties

Knowing if the car has any outstanding recalls or is still under warranty can save you money and headaches. A vehicle history report can list these details, allowing you to address recall issues before purchase and benefit from any existing warranty coverage.

5. Avoid Stolen Vehicles

Purchasing a stolen vehicle can lead to legal troubles and the loss of the car and your money. A history check helps verify a car’s legal status and prevents you from inadvertently buying stolen property.

6. Assess the Value Accurately

Knowing a car’s value is one of the best benefits of vehicle history reports. A report will give you a ballpark figure on a vehicle’s market value based on prevailing prices for the car make, year and model, adjusted by the vehicle history (e.g., accidents), cost of ownership (e.g., insurance and maintenance), and condition (e.g., bodywork, under bonnet, interior and controls, under chassis, wheels and tires, and road test).

Armed with an informed value estimate, you can assess whether a used vehicle is worth its asking price. This will empower you to negotiate better with the seller and increase the likelihood of paying a fair price on your used car purchase.

What to Look for When Conducting Due Diligence?

Whether conducting due diligence yourself or opting for the more convenient route of generating a vehicle history report, pay special attention to the following information:

1.Ownership History

Examine how many times the vehicle has changed hands. It may be easier to check the maintenance history of a car when it has had only a few past owners.

The car turnover rate can also alert you to a potential problem. Why is the car changing hands so frequently in a short period? Does it have a problem the previous owners could not resolve?

2. Mileage

Check the odometer readings. You want to check it for consistency with the age of the vehicle and the car owner’s report on how and where they mainly used it.

3. Maintenance Records

Seek evidence of regular maintenance such as engine oil changes, car checks, parts changes, and other routine services. Regular maintenance means the car is likely in good condition, which means fewer problems for you later on.

However, you should also look into the details of each maintenance appointment. The maintenance logs may tell you if the car has transmission or some other serious issues. Maybe it had been repaired for an undeclared accident, which brings up the next point.

4. Accident History

Scrutinize maintenance records for any accidents or repairs, especially structural repairs, which can affect car safety, integrity, and roadworthiness.

5. Title Status

Confirm that the title is clean, not salvaged, rebuilt, or flood-damaged, which could drastically reduce the car’s value and safety.

6.  Recalls

Verify if there are any open recalls on the vehicle that the car owner has not addressed.

7. Cost of Ownership

You want information on insurance premiums, fuel consumption, and maintenance costs to estimate how much you must spend each month to keep the car running. This will add another dimension to your evaluation of the car’s value and help you decide if you can afford the vehicle.

8. Inspection Checklist

Ask the seller to provide you with the latest inspection report on the vehicle so you’ll have up-to-date information on the car’s condition.

Vehicle History Reports: Crucial and Essential

A vehicle history check adds a layer of security and assurance to used car purchases. When buying a used car, conduct due diligence by generating a vehicle history report.

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