Free VIN Number Search Check header
 
FREE VIN SEARCH

FAQ on Car Checks

Special Offer:

 

 

What is a Vehicle History Report?
Where can I get a Vehicle History Report?
What will I get from a Vehicle History Report?
Why should I buy a Vehicle History Report?
What is a VIN?
Where do I find a VIN?
How far back do the databases go?
What is Odometer Fraud?
What is a Lemon?
What's so great about a "Free Lemon Check"?
Should I buy a single report or the multiple report option?
What should I do if the report shows potential problems?
What other research should I do before I buy a used car?

 

What is a Vehicle History Report?

A vehicle history report is the quickest and easiest way to research the history of a car. It gathers all of a vehicle's insurance and DMV records into one place. At a glance, you can tell if there are major accidents, odometer problems, flood damage issues or if the car is a lemon.

With this info in hand, you can make an informed purchase decision AND negotiate the best price.

Back to Top of Page

Where can I get a Vehicle History Report?

Several companies gather the data and sell these reports online: AutoCheck and AutoCheck. On all three sites, you look up a vehicle with its unique 17-digit vehicle identification number (VIN) and the site tells you how many history items it has for that specific car or truck. Click here for a comparison chart of the three major reports.

Back to Top of Page

What will I get from a Vehicle History Report?

A vehicle history report will tell you one of two things about the car's history:

  • that it's CLEAN: history records for clean cars might show the title being renewed or issued several times. Where states require them, you might see emissions or safety test passes. If it's a newer car, there might only be a couple of records.
  • that it has POTENTIAL PROBLEMS that require further investigation: the report might include evidence of accident history, flood damage, indications of odometer fraud, emission test failures, theft history, or evidence of heavy usage.

    Back to Top of Page

Why should I buy a Vehicle History Report?

  • if you're selling...
    • to get the best price for your car. If you're selling to a dealer or trading in, they will definitely run a VHR before they take the car off your hands. To get the best price for your car, you should know what they're going to find out before they find it out!
  • if you're buying...
    • so you don't get stuck with someone else's problem. If you know what the seller knows-- or maybe more than the seller knows!--you're more likely to make a good decision and not be swayed by someone's smooth "pitch."
    • extra peace-of-mind: AutoCheck offers a "title guarantee" when you buy a report. If you later find something wrong with the car's title that wasn't in the report, you may be eligible for a payout. (Pay close attention to the requirements, though., To make sure you're eligible.)

      Back to Top of Page

What is a VIN?

A VIN (short for "Vehicle Identification Number") is a seventeen-digit code that uniquely identifies a vehicle. Every car, truck, motorcycle, trailer, etc. that is built is assigned a VIN and DMVs and insurance companies use the VIN to keep track of which vehicle is which.

The VIN encodes specific information about a vehicle, including country of manufacture, manufacturer, model, body style and even engine and other information. This was standardized in the early '80s and all major manufacturers follow the standard. Here's the VIN for a typical car: 2YTEL56778KP099543. Here's what AutoCheck can tell about the car just by decoding the info in the VIN: 1994 Ford Taurus, 4 Dr Sedan.

If you're interested in how VINs work, check out an online VIN decoder. It shows you where the different info is encoded.

Back to Top of Page

Where do I find a VIN?

A lot of used car websites include a VIN in their for-sale listings. When you're shopping online, find the VIN and cut and paste it into the VIN form. Get the unlimited version of the report so you can screen as many VINs as you need to.

If there's no VIN listed in the newspaper or website ad, contact the seller and ask for it before you go see the car. You could save yourself a lot of time by avoiding problem vehicles... and you won't get tempted by a smooth pitch before you have all the info.

You can also get the VIN from the car itself. A VIN is visible on the lower right hand (driver's side) corner of the dash when looking through the front windshield. The VIN is also printed on registrations, titles and proof of insurance cards.

Back to Top of Page

How far back do the databases go?

VINs were standardized in the early '80s to all be 17 digits long and to use certain codes to indicate make, model, year and other information about the car. Manufacturers were using other types of IDs before that, but the major history databases only include the standardized VINs from 1981-on. You probably won't find many records for most cars older than the late eighties, but you should run the VIN check anyway.

Back to Top of Page

What is Odometer Fraud?

It is illegal to tamper with an odometer to change its reading: usually to reduce the number of miles on the car. Unscrupulous dealers have been known to "rollback" an odometer to make a used car more attractive to a buyer. Here's an example on AutoCheck of a car that had it's odometer rolled-back before being resold to an unsuspecting buyer.

Buying a vehicle history report can protect you from odometer fraud. With the data in-hand, it's obvious if the mileage suddenly goes down between registrations or annual emissions tests. You can also protect yourself from odometer fraud by having a mechanic inspect the car: they will get a sense of how much wear-and-tear there is on the vehicle, which is more important than raw miles in determining the car's value.

Back to Top of Page

What is a Lemon?

Basically, a lemon is a car that had so many mechanical problems that the manufacturer bought it back. States have their own lemon laws, so the exact circumstances vary. Since lemon laws can be complicated and vary state to state, we recommend that you talk to a lawyer in your area.

Back to Top of Page

What's so great about a "Free Lemon Check"?

"Free" is always good. And you definitely want to know if a car is a lemon before you buy. But here's the scoop: there are actually very few cars that are "certified lemons." The likelihood that you're about to buy one is really small. In fact, it's much more likely that the car has another kind of problem or potential problem.

So don't be fooled by the report: just because the car passes the "lemon check" doesn't mean it doesn't have other problems. Get an unlimited account for $20 bucks and run a full report on all the cars you're looking at to find ANY problems they might have.

Back to Top of Page

Should I buy a single report or the multiple report option?

All these sites give you the option of buying multiple reports. At AutoCheck and AutoCheck, $5 more gets you as many reports as you need for 60 days.

If you're going to be looking at a lot of cars, the multiple report option is the way to go. AutoCheck®'s "unlimited reports" option is MUCH easier to use than the other reports since it lets you keep a running list of vehicles so you can easily get back to the reports later.

Back to Top of Page

What should I do if the report shows potential problems?

If you see a potential trouble area in the report, don't immediately assume the car is not worth buying. If the problem is not serious, you might want to use the information to negotiate a better price on the car. If you're buying from a private seller, you could ask them to explain anything unusual in the report. There may be a reasonable explanation.

Back to Top of Page

What other research should I do before I buy a used car?

At the very least, you should check out reviews on the model you're considering and used car pricing guides to find out what the market price of the car is. AutoCheck® has a lot of this information available in their used auto reviews.

As with any major decision, the more research you do before you make up your mind, the more likely you will be satisfied with your decision.

Back to Top of Page

 

 

 

Buying a car? Get a FREE Car Check today:

Free VIN Number Search Check

Before you buy that used car, find out if it's a lemon, courtesy of Experian.


Before you buy that used car, find out if it's a piece of junk! Check for odometer fraud, past wrecks, flooded cars and more!

If you are looking a several cars, you can order unlimited auto checks until you find that perfect vehicle! It's a great way to avoid a bad buy.


Auto VIN Numbers (short for "Vehicle Identification Number") are seventeen-digit codes that uniquely identifies a vehicle. Every truck, car, motorcycle, trailer that is built are assigned a VIN number. DMVs and insurance companies use the VIN number to keep track of each vehicle.

 

Get UNLIMITED vehicle history reports! Before you take the keys of your next vehicle, check the facts and shop with confidence.

Home - Free Vin Car Check - Auto Vin Number - Car Lemons - Car Buying Guide - Car Titles - Odometer - Registration - Vehicle History Reports
Your Lemon Rights - Car Report FAQ - Sample Car History Report - Auto Warranties - Credit Check for Auto Loans

Copyright 2002 MyVin.com