In the market for a used car? Don’t spend a penny of your hard-earned dough until you give that car a thorough check-up. Here’s the good news – you don’t have to get yourself dirty under the hood to learn what you need to know about a used car. Instead, head to your computer. We have 10 reasons why you need to conduct an online vehicle identification number check before you buy your next used car.
A vehicle identification number check is necessary, because it:
Is Fast (and Easy!)
A free VIN number check can be done from any location with Internet access. It can be run any time of the day or night. It only takes a few minutes to plug in the vehicle’s VIN and pull up anything you ever wanted to know about a used car. Once the report is in your hand, the same company that gave you the report will also provide ample information on their website to help you understand the report - all within a matter of minutes. It doesn’t get much faster (or easier) than that.
Doesn’t Cost Much
The DMV may offer a free VIN report that offers valuable information about a used car. To dig a little deeper, check out your options in a vehicle identification number check with companies that specialize in this type of information. While you’ll have to shell out a few bucks, the information you receive will be well worth the money. Most of those companies even offer discounted rates for shoppers who know they will be pulling up more than one report as they work their way through the used car buying process.
Reveals Stuff the Owner Might Not Tell You
Whether you are buying a used car from a lot or a private owner, you never know if the seller is giving you the complete lowdown on a car you are interested in. Some sellers might simply forget facts about the car, such as the relatively minor accident they were in five years ago. Others might purposely withhold information to make the sale, not informing you the car was previously totaled in an accident or suffered severe water damage.
A few unscrupulous ones might even set out to intentionally deceive you by rolling back the odometer or hiding facts about the car’s history. The good news is a simple vehicle identification number check may provide you with those important facts, even if the seller doesn’t.
Gives You an Ownership History
Is the dealer swearing that flashy red convertible has only had one owner – a little old lady who never missed an oil change or drove the car over 40 miles-per-hour? Are you having trouble buying into that scenario?
A vehicle identification number check will let you know exactly how many times that title has transferred ownership. If you discover the car has had multiple owners in its relatively short life, it could indicate maintenance schedules were not followed as closely as they should have been. It could also be that the car has been sold multiple times because that knock or ping in the engine has never been fully resolved. More owners usually mean more caution is required in the buying process.
Protects You from Odometer Fraud
The odometer on a used vehicle tells you what you might expect from the car in terms of upcoming maintenance and repairs. As a general rule, the more miles a car has packed on, the more repairs it could need in the near future. Some sellers may roll back the odometer to make the car look like it has less wear and to artificially inflate the value of a vehicle. This process can cost a buyer thousands, by paying more than the car is worth and facing major repairs long before expected.
A vehicle identification number check, even if it is a free VIN report from DMV, can stop odometer fraud in its tracks. There are many sources in these reports that allow you to track mileage on the vehicle, from title transfers to maintenance records. This low-cost record can save a buyer a significant amount of money by revealing a more accurate estimate of how far a vehicle has traveled.
Lets You Know how a Car has been Used
You would like to think that used car sitting on the dealer’s lot has only been used by one or two owners in its brief history. However, some of the cars that make it back to lots include vehicles that have been used as commercial taxis or rental cars. Some may have been leased vehicles that were returned to the lot when the lease was up. While these cars may be in decent condition, chances are they weren’t cared for with the same TLC as a car that has been in the hands of a single owner.
A vehicle identification number check may reveal how a car has been used before it was put back on the market. These histories show cars that were in rental fleets or used for other commercial purposes. The report may also indicate if a car was leased, which could increase the risk for odometer fraud and excessive wear and tear for the vehicle’s age.
Prevents the Sale of a Stolen Vehicle
A vehicle identification number check will also reveal whether a car has ever been reported lost or stolen. Stolen vehicles often suffer significant abuse at the hands of a criminal, and even if they are fixed up for the lot, the damage may still cause serious problems for the next owner. A vehicle identification number check will also provide a title history that tells you whether the true owner of the vehicle is now offering the vehicle for sale.
Alerts You to Potential Structural Damage
Accident histories are a common feature of a vehicle identification number check. If a car has been in a crash, there could still be structural damage that you cannot see, but will cause significant headache for the vehicle’s next owner. Even if a car has been repaired after an accident, it is important to know the accident occurred so you can have your own mechanic check the damage site to ensure the repairs were handled correctly.
In addition, the vehicle identification number check may also alert a potential buyer to the fact the car has suffered significant water or weather damage. The report will likely include records from salvage and junk yards, as well as insurance companies, which will let you know if the car has ever been salvaged or written off as a total loss by an insurance company.
Tells You if the Car has had Enough TLC
There are a number of ways to tell if a car has been properly cared for throughout its history, and that information can be important if you want to purchase a car that will give you minimal problems. Some features to watch out for include multiple owners of the vehicle, and a history of use as a rental car or leased vehicle. Some reports will also include maintenance records for the vehicle, so you can see whether the car was taken in for regular oil changes and servicing, and if potential problems were addressed quickly.
A carfax free report can be a valuable tool for a used car shopper today. With many potential benefits to these reports, they have become an essential step in a smart, savvy used car buying process.