The Washington Times-Herald

Local News

January 25, 2014

What to look for on a vehicle history

A vehicle history report can be a used car buyer’s best friend. Whereas in the past buyers bought used cars and hoped for the best, today’s used car buyers can rely on a vehicle history report to tell them all about the vehicle while helping buyers make more informed decisions.

When shopping for a pre-owned vehicle, you should always ask for a vehicle history report, regardless of whether you’re buying from a dealership or a private citizen. If the seller refuses, it’s time to look elsewhere. When a seller eagerly provides a vehicle history report, buyers should examine a few things on the report so they can be more comfortable should they ultimately purchase the vehicle.

n Number of previous owners: All vehicle history reports list how many owners a vehicle has had in the past. In general, the more owners a vehicle has had, the more risk you’re assuming as the buyer. Vehicles that tend to change hands often are less likely to have been well maintained.

In addition to how many owners a car has had, look at who those owners were. Vehicles that were once owned by a rental car company, for instance, were likely not treated very well, as few people care how much abuse their rental car endures. However, a car once owned by a rental agency likely has lots of highway miles on it, and such driving is less taxing on a vehicle than city driving where the vehicle’s engine is stopping and starting more frequently.

n Specifics: Just because a seller provides you with a vehicle history report does not necessarily mean that report matches up with the vehicle you might be buying. A dishonest seller might try to pass off the history report of another vehicle of the same make and model as his own. This is done to hide a suspect vehicle history or even when thieves are selling a stolen car to an unsuspecting buyer. Check the vehicle identification number, or VIN, on the vehicle to ensure the car you’re looking at matches the car on the history report. In addition, each vehicle history report describes the car, so if the description does not match you might be holding an inaccurate report.

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