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Vehicle History Report - Why a VIN Search is So Important when Buying a Used Car

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Vehicle History Report - Why a VIN Search is So Important when Buying a Used Car

David Bloom
April 17, 2006

Getting a vehicle history report is one of the most important steps in the used car buying process. Why? Because it is the only way to find out the full history of the vehicle, including any serious problems that might not be evident upon inspecting or even test-driving the car.

The vehicle history report, also referred to as the VIN search or VIN check, is a complete biography of an automobile, from the time it was first registered up until the last ownership transfer. Some of the important information that will be included in the report are odometer readings, DMV transactions, ownership transfers and registration data.

However, the most essential part of the vehicle history report is the section on serious problems that the car has had in the past. This will include any major issue that was reported to the Department of Motor Vehicles, such as collision damage, odometer rollback, police use, theft, fire, hail and water damage, persistent mechanical issues and more. Many sellers will not want to reveal this information for obvious reasons...still others might not even be aware of the problems if the vehicle has changed hands multiple times.

That is why it is crucial that you get a vehicle history report before you decide to buy any used car, whether it's through a dealer, a neighbor or a friend. It's a small price to pay to avoid a problematic used vehicle.

Wondering how to get a vehicle history report?

It's quite simple. Every car has a unique Vehicle Identification Number, sometimes called a VIN Number or VIN for short. It is like an automobile's fingerprint and is a 17-character alphanumeric sequence that identifies that particular car.

The VIN can be found on the insurance card, the driver's side dashboard, the title or registration or the driver's side door post.

While you are shopping for used cars, make sure you write down the 17-character VIN Number for each vehicle you encounter. Then you can go online to one of the Vehicle History Report companies--for suggestions you can visit Car Detective at the link below--and either order a single VIN search or unlimited VIN checks, depending on how many different cars you want to check.

The unique VIN you enter will be checked against a database of millions of DMV records to reveal all of the available history on that particular car. In addition to basic vehicle information, the vehicle history reports will reveal any problems that you should be aware of.

The unlimited report option will allow you to check as many cars as you want for a period of 60 days, so it might be a better choice if you are considering more than one car at a time.

So next time you are in the market for a used car, get a vehicle history report before you make the final decision. For the cost of a couple of movie tickets you might be avoiding thousands of dollars in future mechanical problems...isn't that worth it for your peace of mind?

To learn more about vehicle history reports visit Car Detective Vehicle History Reports and VIN search and Auto Advice VIN Number Check.

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