How to Read a Vehicle History Report

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You’re looking for a used car to own as your daily driver, and you’ve suddenly stumbled upon a great deal. The vehicle is a few years old, has low miles and is priced below its estimated value.

But you suspect something isn’t right. Surely it’s too good to be true.

Going for a test drive isn’t the only way to determine whether or not you should buy a used car, and not everyone knows how to inspect a vehicle’s mechanical condition.

So you pull the vehicle history report. But what exactly are you looking at?

With the vehicle’s VIN number, you can look up virtually anything about a car’s history.


Terms to know in a Vehicle History Report:


Title information – Shows if the vehicle has been reported to have been issued a negative title “brand” like salvage or junk that often come with severe accidents

Number of titles – Shows the reported ownership history and the possible ownership changes

States of title – Provides the states that the vehicle has been reported titled or registered in previously

Salvage or junk information from titles or other sources – Shows if the vehicle has been reported as a salvage vehicle by a state or has been reported at auction or junk yard

DMV-reported odometer problems – Shows when the vehicle has been reported to having had its odometer rolled back or broken

Lemon history – Shows if the vehicle has a been reported as a lemon

Insurance total loss information – Shows if the vehicle has been reported as a total loss by an insurance company

Auction history – Lets the buyer know if it has been reported at an auto auction

Accident history – Shows if the vehicle has been in a reported accident or has sustained damage

Air bag deployment – Shows whether or not the vehicle’s airbag has been reported as deployed

Mileage readings – Lists the odometer readings that have been reported for the vehicle

Service records – Shows any reported service information

State emission inspection results – Shows the results of a state inspection or emission results as reported by the state

Warranty or service contract availability – Shows whether or not the vehicle has been covered by warranty or service contract

(Source: Wikipedia)

Though the vehicle history report is a valuable tool when deciding on a used car, it’s only one step in the buying process. See more articles from Price My Auto to find out what you can do to make sure you buy the right used vehicle.