This information comes in handy if you’re planning to sell your car or are in the market to buy one. Of course, not every detail about a car is revealed, especially if an owner handled much of the upkeep and repairs himself. In that case you can ask him for a copy of his repair records to confirm what you may already know about the vehicle.
Vehicle history reports are produced by several companies including Carfax and Autocheck. Before you order a report you’ll want to verify what that report offers. Important considerations include a record of previous owners, possible damage due to flood or other forces of nature, recalls including so-called lemon reports and miles on the odometer.
To obtain a vehicle history report, you must do the following:
Get the V.I.N. – All vehicles produced over the past several decades have vehicle identification numbers, a 17-digit alphanumeric code or identifier. Each code reveals much about the vehicle once it has been decoded including the make and model of the vehicle, year built and the assembly plant. This number is usually found on the dashboard at the edge of the windshield and sometimes appears on the driver’s door or the firewall.
Select a vendor – With a handful of companies providing history reports, your choices are narrow, but include Carfax, Autocheck and VINCheck, the latter a free service from the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
Make your payment – Carfax and Autocheck charge for providing vehicle history reports. You’ll need a credit card to place your order which will allow you to review that report online. You can print out a copy of your report and show it to buyers or use it when negotiating a purchase.
Are vehicle history reports comprehensive? No, and Consumer Reports warns that some information may be missing or not recently updated. The consumer organization has discovered that some reports for vehicles which were seriously damaged and not declared a total loss were most susceptible to problems. Still, CR recommends vehicle history reports for what they do say and advises car shoppers to get vehicles inspected by their mechanic.
Adv. — Are you shopping for a used or new car? If so, CarSurfer.com has information about used and new cars, and offers free loan calculators and work sheets to help you close the deal.
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