Vehicle History Report

The vehicle history report covers a number of topics that buyers needed when they want to purchase a used car. VIN check and vehicle history reports are most often used interchangeably. However, they are not exactly the same. VIN checks only show basic information such as make, model, year, assembly plant, engine size, type, etc. Most users search terms such as “completely free VIN check” or “look up VIN number free”. This will return only basic details about the vehicle you are interested in.

On the other hand, the vehicle history report shows more details. It will cost you for few dollars but it will give you vital and important information. This information includes the number of previous owners, service and repair records, theft/accident/damage/sales records, warranty, odometer records, car title checks, and more. In short, a vehicle history report is more detailed than a VIN check.

If you are considering buying a used car and still have doubts about its overall state, you do not need to worry anymore. You can discover all the details by using the VIN decoder tool. Using the VIN decoder, you can find important information about the vehicle’s past, search for auto parts, and find window sticker for a vehicle you are interested in.

Why is a vehicle history report important?

Buying a used car can be a frustrating and tricky process. It’s easy to detect dents, dings, and scratches with a quick glance at the vehicle, but a visual inspection doesn’t necessarily tell you how well it’s been maintained or if it’s been in an accident.

Cars can have secrets, and they can cause you a lot of grief if you don’t know where to find the truth. A vehicle history report is a great starting point to make sure the used car you’re looking at is going to last. 

Consider the vehicle report as the DNA report of a car. It tracks the comprehensive past of the vehicle from when it was first sold to when you bought it. This information can help you determine if the vehicle has hidden issues when purchasing a used car. 

On the other hand, if you are a seller, providing a vehicle history report to potential buyers can help them gain peace of mind about the vehicle’s history and increase your chances of selling your car. A car VIN lookup is your key to understanding a vehicle’s condition and can help buyers to avoid future troubles.

How to get a vehicle report?

Generally, you need the VIN number to lookup vehicle by VIN. The VIN has 17 characters which comprise digits and capital letters. On most passenger cars, you can find the VIN on the inside of the dashboard on the driver’s side (viewable through the windshield). You can also find it under the hood on the front of the engine block in gasoline cars. It can also be found on the driver’s side door pillar. On older cars, the VIN can be seen above the front end of the frame, above the wheels. If you can’t find the VIN number on your vehicle, you should be able to find it on the vehicle’s various paperwork which includes the vehicle’s title, insurance card, or vehicle’s registration card.

If you do not have the VIN simply run the license plate lookup tool to get the same full vehicle history report.

What information you can get from the vehicle report?

A vehicle history covers everything from the vehicle specifications to title brand checks, and everything in between. The VIN report includes the following information.

  • Previous owners and how they used the vehicle: A vehicle that has multiple owners or owners in different states could have hidden problems. The VIN search determines the number of previous owners, ownership duration, and the information on whether the vehicle was used for business or personal matters. Was it used as a rental car or taxi? Additionally, you can discover when and where it was bought and sold.

  • Odometer readings:  Sometimes dishonest car dealers or sellers reset the odometer to increase the value of the car. It is illegal to change a car’s mileage. Mileage is recorded when the vehicle is registered and when repairs are made in the workshop. The vehicle history report contains the most recent odometer readings. Once you look at the car, the odometer reading in the report should match the number on the car’s odometer. If the numbers don’t match, there’s a high chance the seller has tampered with it. If the car’s odometer has been tampered with, this is a warning sign at the time of purchase. Odometer reading also gives you a good idea of ​​how much wear and tear the engine, drivetrain and other important components have experienced.

  • Accident records: The car that was involved in the accident may have hidden or unexpected problems that the un-crashed car did not have. That’s why purchasing a vehicle that had an accident in the past is always risky. The VIN decoder shows all the accidents the car has been involved in and damage to your car. It also lists any professional maintenance performed on the car. Some cars are so damaged that they are no longer safe to drive. Be sure to buy a car with reliable and safe parts for the road.

Autoinsurance lists the following top ten auto makes with the most fatal crashes in the USA in 2021.

Top 10 auto makes with the most fatal crashes in the USA
  • Other Damage: If the vehicle has suffered damage due to other causes such as fire, vandalism, flooding, or hail, you can find it in the history report. In some cases, this might not be an issue. For example, hail and vandalism generally do not cause lasting problems. But flooding can cause major problems in cars, especially with the sensitive electronics and the car’s intake and exhaust. Always review flood damage records in car reports. 

Carfax compiled a list of the top ten USA states that have most vehicles reported as flood-damaged.

Top 10 USA states that have most vehicles reported as flood-damaged
  • Manufacturer Recalls: Vehicle recalls are becoming more common. A safety recall occurs when NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) declares that a specific vehicle is no longer safe to drive due to a defect in some part or parts of the vehicle. If enough of these defects occur in a particular model, NHTSA requires automakers to recall vehicles so that the defects can be fixed. If a recall is described in the report, this section contains an issue and possible fixes that should be implemented. It will help you repair your used vehicle in time. However, when vehicles change ownership multiple times, it is more difficult for manufacturers to contact current owners. Therefore, check the vehicle report for any outstanding recalls that have not been resolved. compiled a following list of the car series with the fewest and most frequent recalls since 1985, reporting recall rates relative to the U.S. registered sales after 1980.

List of recalled car lines in the USA
  • Service History and maintenance records: Details of the vehicle’s service history can give you a clear picture of how well your vehicle has been maintained by previous owners. A well-maintained car can last for many years. Dealers and service centers can report any maintenance visits to their facilities, such as oil changes, brake, and other fluid changes, as well as repairs and vehicle recalls. 

Mostly, VIN lookup also uncovers what kind of maintenance was performed on the vehicle, how frequently it was performed, and sometimes even a record of who performed the work. This is great information for buyers, as it can tell you a lot about how the car was handled overall and what problems you might have on the road. Poorly maintained vehicles can incur expensive repairs later on, and it may not be wise to invest in that car.

  • Title history and checks: The VIN report shows the state name where it was registered and the number of times it has been registered. If you see a car crossing a state line multiple times in a short period of time, it may indicate that the previous owner was trying to remove some negative information from the title.  

The VIN check should contain a vehicle’s title history, including any salvaged ownership brands.  A branded or salvage title means the vehicle has been declared a total loss following theft or accident.  Salvage-titled vehicles can have major problems that can cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars in repairs, so it’s best to avoid them. Our VIN lookup tool discovers if the vehicle has “salvage,” “junk,” “flood,” “collision,” or some other title brand.

  • Theft records: The VIN report also includes whether the NICB (National Insurance Crime Bureau) has any previous reports of theft and theft recovery. Most of these stolen vehicles are resold to innocent and unsuspicious buyers. Even if you unknowingly bought a stolen car, the authorities can take it back. You cannot get back the money you paid for this. Vehicle history reports can alert you to active or recovered thefts.

Insurify lists the following cars as the top ten reported for theft in the USA in 2020.

Top 10 Most Stolen Cars in America
  • Lien records: A lien on a vehicle means that if you want to purchase a vehicle, you must pay the lien holder first. When someone takes a loan on their vehicle title, it can cause problems for future buyers. In some cases, the lender owns the title and the buyer does not know unless they perform a VIN check. Unless adjustment, the situation can permit the titleholder to demand payment of the remaining debt or even repossess the vehicle.
  • Safety ratings: This is the result of the extensive test program carried out by the IIHS. It uncovers vital information about the safety of the vehicle in an accident, including its technical ability to avoid it.
  • Insurance data: The VIN search also shows the insurance claim details for the vehicle. Insurance claims have a major impact on a vehicle’s resale value. Therefore, you must check the insurance data on the report.
  • Airbag deployments: The deployment of the airbags indicates a serious accident of the vehicle. While the damage may have been visually repaired, issues with the frame, drivetrain, or electronics may still exist. Furthermore, a buyer would want to know whether the airbags were repaired and re-inspected properly or not.

What to do next after reviewing a vehicle history report?

After reading the vehicle history report for a used car, you need to decide if the car is worth buying. Much of the information in the VIN report is similar to that reported by insurance companies and law enforcement agencies. After reading the vehicle history, It is highly recommended to take the following steps.

  • Get it inspected: To determine if the car you’re buying is worth the money, have it inspected by a professional mechanic or a service you trust. It should be noted that a vehicle history report is never a substitute for a mechanic’s inspection of the vehicle. You’ll have to spend some money, but it’s definitely worth it. Inspections can help identify damage and other issues not mentioned in the vehicle report.
  • Test Drive:  You should also take the vehicle for a test drive to see how it feels on the road and to identify any specific issues that may arise only while the vehicle is running. According to experts, you should test drive the vehicle on the highway, where you can change gears, check maneuverability, suspension and brakes. On the highway, you can easily get a chance to see any blind spots the vehicle might have.
  • Check report with current owner: Check with the current owner what is mentioned in the report. If the seller is desperate to get rid of it, or trying to force you into making a decision, this can be a red flag. If the owner disputes the reported claims, it ensures that the deal can be problematic.
  • Check market value: When deciding on a fair price, take the time to negotiate. Before negotiating a car price, understand the market value of the car.
  • Maintenance records research: Conduct an in-depth study of maintenance and repair cost reports. Incomplete maintenance records, accidents, or other issues can help you save some money from the seller’s asking price. 

Buying a car can be challenging, but if you do your homework, you can avoid stressful situations in the future.