What is a Vehicle History Report?

Buying a used car or other vehicle can be fraught with problems; however, if you take some simple steps and are willing to pay a small fee you can safeguard your purchase and make sure you do not buy a ‘lemon’, a vehicle with a less than glorious past. This is done by obtaining a Vehicle History Report, and there are many sources that will help you do so. What is a vehicle history report, and why is it so important? Let’s have a look at some of the details.

Vehicle History Report Explained

Put simply, a vehicle history report is a set of information that gives details of a vehicles past, and it can cover a wide variety of subjects. Reports are obtained from one of a number of agencies that deal in such reports, and are relatively inexpensive. Information on the history of vehicles is stored by, among other bodies, law enforcement bodies, so there is plenty of information that can be deduced.

Every vehicle manufactured across the world is given a unique number: this is the vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and it stays with that vehicle for its entire life. The VIN is one source of information about the past history of the vehicle, and is the first thing that potential buyers should look for when investigating a vehicle. The VIN will be located on a metal plate welded to the vehicle, either in the foot well, on one of the sills, or in the engine bay of the vehicle itself. It is essential to make a note of this number before looking at the other sources of information.

Why a Vehicle History Report is Essential

If you purchase a car that has been stolen it may be that it will be taken from you as it is not legally yours; the same applies to vehicles that have outstanding payments still due when sold. The vehicle history report can help alleviate this problem, as it draws information from the following sources:

– The VIN: the VIN is a permanent record of the car’s specifications, including its source of origin, make, model and the mileage recorded on its odometer. If these do not tally with the paperwork, or with the vehicle itself, there is something wrong and buyers should proceed with caution.

– Insurance history: being able to tell if a car has been in an accident is a vital part of the investigation process, as sellers will be reluctant to tell you anything they do not want you to know. A vehicle history report will make such information priority as a result.

– Police records: if a car is stolen, or involved in an accident, the VIN will be entered onto a database; this means that any history report accessing that VIN will show if the car has been stolen and returned, is still registered as stolen, or has been damaged and repaired and to what degree.

These are the three main areas in which the vehicle history report will concentrate, but there are many others that can reveal useful information that helps the buyer. These include a record of the cars past owners, whether it has appeared at auction, its possible use as a fleet, taxi or police vehicle, the number of times the airbag has been deployed and, perhaps most important of all – especially in the USA – whether the car has been reported to be a ‘lemon’.

That shiny used car with all mod-cons and the exact specification you require may well be priced as a bargain, but it is worth remembering, if something looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Where to Get a Vehicle History Report

Vehicle History ReportObtaining a vehicle history report is a simple process; all you need is the VIN of the vehicle – and in some cases the licence plate – and access to one of the many providers in the market. There are two major players in the history report market, and they both offer a similar service: these are Carfax and AutoCheck, and both are well-established names with excellent credentials. AutoCheck is perhaps the more comprehensive service of the two as it offers a full 26-point report as one of its options, although both have impressive features and provide the important information – ownership, accident and insurance, theft and mileage – as standard.

For a small fee a vehicle history report gives the potential buyer added peace of mind in what can be a problematic purchase. A used car can be an absolute bonus or, if the right steps are not taken, a money-pit full of problems. There are unscrupulous dealers, and individual sellers, who will try and pass off a lemon as a decent vehicle, so take out a vehicle history report at AutoCheck or Carfax, and make sure you have that added peace of mind.