You can always look in the Blue Book to find the price you should pay for your next used car, but can you accurately determine the condition the same way? The seller of a used vehicle always has an advantage because the seller has more knowledge about the vehicle’s past. With a history report, you can level the field and negotiate a fair price.
Finding Hidden Damage
Sometimes a vehicle has been damaged but the repairs are may be difficult to identify. Even experienced automotive professionals can’t catch every problem without a thorough inspection. A history report will tell you if the vehicle you are considering has been in an accident. Some reports will indicate if the airbags were deployed, and this can give you a clue as to the severity and the location of the damage.
Protection Against Title Cleansing
Different states have different rules for reporting and licensing rebuilt or salvaged vehicles. Some unscrupulous car sellers will actually move a vehicle with a salvage title across state lines to take advantage of more favorable registration laws. When the new title has been issued without the branding, it is said to have been cleansed. Without a history report, you will have no way to distinguish between these types of salvaged vehicles and vehicles with clean histories.
Verifying the Mileage
One of the most important things that a history report will tell you is the estimated mileage of the vehicle. You should be able to determine if the reported miles on the report match with the mileage on the odometer. If there is a large discrepancy, there is reason to suspect that the odometer has been tampered with.
The Number of Owners
A car that has changed hands too many times could have a hidden problem. It may have been easier to pass off a problem to someone else than it was to fix it. Vehicles that have multiple owners or owners in different states should be suspected. Take your time and investigate past owners thoroughly before committing to a purchase. You don’t want to find yourself in a position where you need to dispose of someone else’s problem.
A well maintained vehicle will last for years to come. Dealerships and service centers may report each visit to their establishment for maintenance such as oil changes, brakes, and other fluid changes as well as repairs and vehicle recalls. Not only do these notes assist vehicle owners in their record keeping but it also assists buyers by proving that the previous owners properly maintained and cared for the vehicle. Vehicles that are poorly maintained, if at all, could cause expensive repairs down the road and may not be wise to invest in.
Vehicle history reports are increasingly common tools car buyers use to make informed decisions. Most reputable dealers will be happy to supply you with a current report, but you should still be careful. These reports only contain information that was reported. In some instances, flaws can still be hidden by avoiding normal reporting methods. Always have your mechanic perform a thorough inspection to verify the information on the report.