The Truth Behind Vehicle History Reports
By: Good2GoPublished: June 8, 2016
Finding your perfect car takes time, money, and research. One of the most important first steps is picking a make and model suitable for your lifestyle. If your daily commute is longer than average, you might want to choose a car known for getting great gas mileage. If you consider yourself “sporty,” maybe an SUV or something equipped with four-wheel drive would be best for your adventures. Once you decide on an option that fits your personality and your wallet, it’s time to start the search – whether you’re going to scour the internet or ask family & friends.
The Digital Report
One huge advantage we have today that wasn’t always available is the internet. The internet is a wealth of information used for many great things, like watching videos of cute puppies, posting pictures of the last thing we ate, and also looking up vehicle history reports. Vehicle history reports are extremely useful when buying a car, since they can tell us about any incidents a car might have been involved in simply by knowing the car’s VIN, or Vehicle Identification Number.
Before these reports were so easily available to consumers, buyers would have to inspect the car’s mechanical condition and page through any logs the previous owner might have kept. Now, you can type in the car’s VIN into a website and then bam – for a small fee, loads of information at your fingertip. However, like many other things we find on the internet, these reports are not always as accurate as we might hope.
Vehicle history reports are available through a number of different companies, with some of the most popular being Carfax, AutoCheck, the National Insurance Crime Bureau, and the National Motor Vehicle Title Information Systems. Consumer Reports, an independent nonprofit, recently did some espionage to debunk a few mysteries and find out if vehicle history reports are really worthy of the consumer’s trust. It doesn’t seem too hard for car history reporting companies to stretch the truth.
Most commonly, Consumer Reports discovered many cars that sustained serious damage but were not reported as a total loss. Many states require the vehicle be described as “salvage,” if there is significant damage, but many can still hold clean titles under specific circumstances. Carfax and AutoCheck do promise that they will buy any vehicle that was purchased using a false report, unless that vehicle has been branded as “theft” or “recovered stolen.” Still, reports are useful for letting us know what the vehicle has even potentially gone through.
Many crooked car salespeople will try to fix wrecked vehicles and re-title them in states where the laws aren’t as strict, an act known as “title washing.” Many companies like Carfax and AutoCheck are able to pick up on a case of “title washing” since they have access to any previous branded titles. Even if a report is somewhat inaccurate, it is still good to know what’s being said about them, since anything negative that appears on a report will depreciate the value of the car if you were to sell it in the future.
If you do decide to look at a vehicle history report and it comes back as clean, there are a few additional steps you should take to make sure the report you received is accurate. Always get the vehicle inspected by an independent mechanic. This will make sure there is an unbiased set of eyes checking for any issues that may have been wiped off the vehicle history report. Also, be sure to test drive the vehicle yourself and make note of anything you might find unusual, like any squeaking noises or signs of water damage.
Always keep in mind that vehicle history reports might not be as accurate as they lead us to believe. It’s important to drive a safe car and know what you are getting yourself into. Although Good2Go can’t tell you where your used car might have been, we can help you figure out how to get it on the road. With a low down payment and inexpensive rates, Good2Go makes sure you have the protection you need. Good2Go specializes in minimum coverage car insurance, but offers other plans, too. Visit us online and get your free quote today.