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Home / Tips and Tricks / How to Check the History of a Used Car Before You Buy – LifeSavvy

How to Check the History of a Used Car Before You Buy – LifeSavvy

  Man and woman are looking at cars on a car parking lot.
Nestor Rizhniak / Shutterstock

Before you buy a used car, it's always a good idea to review the history of the vehicle and learn the full story. Just make sure you do not get upset.

Buying a used car is an excellent option if you need a new wheel set but do not have thousands of dollars to buy something new from the lot. Unfortunately, one can easily be fooled when buying a used car. There are tons of horror stories about people buying cars with serious mechanical problems or finding out that their new car was stolen from the original owner.

So how do you protect yourself when buying a used car? They use the vehicle identification number (VIN) of the vehicle to research its history and make informed purchase decisions.

What is a VIN and why is it important?

When buying a used car you should always find out the chassis number FIN. A FIN is a sequence of 17 letters and numbers that serve as the social security number of a vehicle. No two cars have the same chassis number. So you can use these to look up the vehicle history. When you look up a VIN, you gain access to information such as registration, callbacks, maintenance records, and more.

  Drawing that shows where the VIN can be found in a car.
National Road Safety Authority

What you can Find the FIN of a car by looking at the driver's door or the front corner where the windshield meets the dashboard. VINs are also noted on the insurance card, the title and registration of a vehicle. It's great to see the VIN itself and take a picture with your smartphone instead of accepting the vendor's VIN without seeing it.

Why should I check the chassis number when buying a car?

You should always check the VIN before you purchase a new or used car. If you do so, you will get a basic history of the car, including information on theft, damage or accidents. Imagine driving a stolen car from the parking lot. This is an extreme example, but not unknown. When you perform a VIN exam, you can avoid some of these major problems.

A VIN test also determines if something happened to the vehicle that could affect driving safety. You can also check maintenance documents for the car and see if it has been serviced regularly. B. by oil change.

If you buy a car from a reputable dealer, you will get a VIN car number for free before buying the vehicle. Your salesperson should go through the report with you. The report contains a lot of information about the car, including the number of owners, any accidents, any insurance claims submitted, and the question of whether an open recall is pending.

What should you do? Look in a VIN number report?

  Displays on the dashboard of a car.
Song Pin / Shutterstock

What should you look for when the dealership has given you a vehicle history report? There is usually a lot of information, but here are the most important things to consider.

Is it legal?

When shopping at a reputable dealer, you do not have to worry about whether the car is legal for sale. On the other hand, if you are shopping with a private owner or a potentially dodgy dealer, make sure that the car has a free and unique title. The VIN report informs you if a car has ever been reported stolen.

The number of previous owners

The VIN report shows how many previous owners had a car. If there are two or more, it may be an indication that something is wrong – mechanically or otherwise. If you notice, you may want to get a second opinion on whether the car is suitable for purchase.

Did accidents occur?

An accident can affect a vehicle in many ways. In the case of an accident, serious damage can occur, even if it is not visible to the naked eye. If a car was involved in an accident, make sure it is safe to drive and all problems have been resolved. This means that an accident can affect both the purchase price and the resale value. You may be able to negotiate a cheaper price to buy a car that has had an accident. But you also have to sell it for less.

Was it maintained?

Many VIN reports show the maintenance records of a car. You can see when and how often routine maintenance has been done, such as: B. Oil change or tire change. If you buy a used car, it is important that it was well looked after by its previous owners. Otherwise, higher repair fees may be due sooner than expected.

Are there any callbacks or warranties?

A VIN report also states open callbacks for a vehicle model. In most cases, a dealer will take care of the repair of recalls at no charge, so you will not have to worry about recalls costing you money. However, it is important that you know about open callbacks so that you are aware of potential dangers when operating the vehicle.

The VIN also contains information on whether the vehicle still has a warranty. With a guarantee, you can save money on costly repairs.

Checking the VIN Number History

There are several ways to check the VIN number history of a used car. Here are some of the best places to check the history of a car.


CarFax is a leader in providing detailed VIN reports to potential buyers. Many renowned car dealerships offer CarFax reports for used car purchases. You can also purchase a CarFax report on its website by purchasing directly from an owner or dealer who does not offer this service. A CarFax report costs $ 39.99.

National Insurance Crime Bureau

The National Insurance Crime Bureau provides a database of theft or loss records for cars. You can enter the VIN of a vehicle to see if it has been marked as stolen or badly damaged at some point in its history.


VehicleHisory's comprehensive VIN report provides detailed information on vehicle inspection and performance records, vehicle safety ratings, warranty and more. You can also find out when and where the vehicle was offered for sale.

National Road Safety Authority

The National Road Safety Authority provides a VIN search to let you know if a car has callbacks. [19659006] Other ways to get information about a car

In addition to the online services, you can personally check the history and suitability of a car for purchase.

Ask the dealership

If your dealer does not automatically provide you with a CarFax report, you can always request one. If you want them to buy from you, you pay the nominal fee to give you the information you need. If they refuse, they do not really want or deserve your business.

Talk to the owner

If you buy a car directly from the owner, you should definitely ask him about his story. Here are some good questions about a used car:

  • How long have you had it?
  • Were there accidents?
  • Are there any cosmetic or mechanical issues that need to be resolved? [19659048] Were pets in the car?
  • How was this car used earlier?

Remember that the owner may not tell you the truth. You should always try to confirm what you have been told with a CarFax report or an inspection by a mechanic.

Have it examined by a mechanic.

If you have a mechanic you trust, you can ask him to inspect the car you are thinking of buying. A mechanic knows what to look for to determine the safety and effectiveness of a car. See if you can drive to the mechanic or ask your mechanic to come with you.

Buying a used car can be stressful and scary. What if you make the wrong choice and buy a lemon? The best way to prevent this is to research as much as possible in advance. Equip yourself with knowledge and it will save you expensive mistakes.

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