VIN reports are a vital part of the used car buying process. As every car buyer knows, before you give up your hard earned cash for that used vehicle, always run a history report. A VIN or vehicle identification number report will uncover the hidden history of the used vehicle you’ve been eying, and let you know whether that deal is as good as it appears or really a dud.
VIN history reports can reveal a great deal about what has happened to your car: whether it has been in any accidents, whether it has received its proper maintenance, whether it was really owned by a little old lady or used as a taxi cab or rental car. Because these reports cover the entire history of the car, a number of different problems may come to light when you access them online.
Here are some of the top major problems that you might learn about only with a full car history report:
Top Five Hidden Problems You Might Uncover
1. Collision Damage
One of the first and arguably most important aspects of VIN reports is a full disclosure of collision or accident damage. The report can tell you whether the airbags of the car have ever been deployed, indicating a serious head-on or side crash. It can also tell you about whether the car has ever suffered frame damage due to an accident. If the frame of the car has been damaged at any time, this may seriously undermine any safety features the car originally offered and may increase the damage of any future accidents. If you see this on your report, it’s time to check another car.
2. Salvaged, Totaled, or Lemon
If a used car has ever been written off by an insurance company as requiring repairs that are more expensive than the worth of the car, VIN history reports will indicate that the car has been salvaged or totaled. This tells you that at one time someone deemed the car not worth repairing, even if the car is still technically drivable. Also, if the car has ever been designated as a lemon, you can rest assured there are defects that aren’t readily visible. Again, walk away from this one and move on.
3. Odometer Discrepancies
With the right tools, anyone can alter an odometer. That’s why it is important to use a VIN check to discover any discrepancies in odometer readings. If the odometer read 50,000 miles at the last service check up and only reads 40,000 now, someone has rolled back the odometer readings. An unscrupulous dealer might try to overcharge for a vehicle by obscuring just how many miles are on the car. This is a very common issue, and not one to be taken lightly. Make sure that number is correct.
4. Inadequate Service Records
Most VIN reports will track how often a car has gone in for regularly scheduled maintenance or to deal with unexpected problems such as engine trouble or oil leaks. If the car has not been serviced regularly, problems may be just around the corner. Every car needs regular service in order to stay in top condition.
5. Flood or Fire Damage
Finally, while not incredibly common, any history of flood or fire damage can be incredibly detrimental to the integrity of a used car. If there is any indication of flood or fire damage, there may be severe electrical, transmission, or even structural problems that won’t be easily found.
There are a number of other problems that could potentially come up which may make the purchase of a particular used vehicle unwise. That’s why it pays to look into a full vehicle history report on any car you are considering to check it out before you buy it from the seller, even if that individual is a dealer. You just never know what’s hiding under the hood!