What is a vehicle history report?

By Product Expert | Posted in Tips and Tricks on Sunday, April 21st, 2019 at 8:30 am
Rows of vehicles on a used car lot.

The Lowdown on Vehicle History Reports

If you’re shopping for a used car, you may have heard mention of a “vehicle history report,” and wondered just what that is. No, it’s not a high school essay on the origin of moving transport. A vehicle history report is a near-essential element of purchasing a used car.

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Close-up of a vehicle title certificate.What is a VIN?

Every vehicle comes with a 17-digit VIN, or “Vehicle Identification Number.” This works similarly to how a social security number does for humans. Using the VIN, a whole bevy of information can be unlocked about the vehicle’s past doings.

A VIN is what is used to access a Vehicle History Report. Vehicle History Reports tell the big events of a vehicle’s life: who owned it, what they did with, how far they drove it, whether it’s been damaged in an accident, flood, or fire, whether it’s been stolen, and more.

What is car title branding?

Another important bit of information the Vehicle History Report will give you is the title branding. This tells you whether the car has been damaged in relation to its value.  If the vehicle has a salvaged or branded title, this will tell you that car has been deemed totaled in the past by an insurance company.

If your dream car turns out to have a salvaged or branded title, don’t immediately lose all hope. If you still feel like your life with this vehicle is meant to be, you should get it thoroughly checked out by a mechanic- sometimes previously-totaled vehicles can still run great (they may have been repaired well, or the original damage may have been something that doesn’t affect the mechanics) and in many cases can still be insured.

Where can I get a Vehicle History Report?

A variety of sources can be used to obtain a Vehicle History Report. The most detailed will charge a fee, while free services will at least tell you the major incidents. A car dealership will generally pay for a detailed CARFAX Vehicle History Report if you ask them. It’s kind of like how grocery stores will scan the coupon book at checkout, but often only if you ask them to do so.

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