Check the VIN Number before you buy a used car


used mustang

If you’re in the market for a used car, you need to be prepared to do the necessary research on the car you’re buying. That’s true whether you’re buying a car from an old school used car lot, and individual seller or one of those new apps and services that will deliver cars to your door. Any seller can make a used car look good, but you really need to understand what you’re buying.

Running a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) check to obtain a vehicle history report is a crucial step when buying a used car. It’s inexpensive and really easy (we include some useful links in here) and it can save you a ton of heartache later on.


Here’s why it’s important and what to look for when reviewing the report:

Accident History

This is the most important point. A vehicle history report based on the VIN number can reveal if the car you want to buy has been in any accidents. Major accidents can significantly impact the car’s structural integrity and safety, so it’s very important to know if something major has occurred. If so, that can greatly affect your negotiating power on price.

Look for details on any accidents, including the severity and the areas of the car that were damaged. Pay attention to whether the airbags deployed, as this indicates a significant impact.

Title Status

The report will show if the car has a clean title or if it’s branded as salvaged, rebuilt, or junked. These designations indicate the car has suffered significant damage in the past. This is rare but you don’t want to be surprised.

Also, you can ensure there are no outstanding liens on the vehicle. A lien means the car could be repossessed if the debt isn’t settled.

Ownership History

Knowing how many previous owners a car has had can help assess its wear and tear. Frequent ownership changes might be a red flag. We all love the idea of purchasing a car that was owned by a responsible, elderly couple. Knowing this history can be critical.

Odometer Readings

The VIN number report includes odometer readings from various points in the car’s history. This can help detect odometer fraud, where the mileage has been rolled back to make the car appear less used than it actually is. This is more common than you might think, so make sure to check this.

Service Records

Have the owners been changing the oil regularly? Some reports include service and maintenance records. Regular maintenance is a good sign of a well-cared-for vehicle.

With this report, pay attention to major repairs and recurring issues.

Recalls and Defects

The report might list any recalls or defects associated with the vehicle. Ensuring these have been addressed is crucial for safety.

Theft Records

It can show if the car has ever been reported stolen. This ensures you’re not buying a stolen vehicle, which could lead to legal troubles and loss of the car. Again, this might be rare, but you want to ensure you don’t have a problem here.

The bottom line is that understanding the car’s history helps in assessing its fair market value and help you avoid unexpected problems. A car with a clean history is always worth more than one with a troubled past. Arm yourself with information, and you end up with a much better experience as you find a used car that meets your needs.

Also, running a VIN check is super easy and we added some easy resources that are one click away.



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