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How To Check A Car’s History: The Number #1 Thing You Need To Know Before Buying A Used Car


Getting a car report should be the first step of the buying process.  Checking the history of your potential car might seem like a lengthy and maybe even unnecessary process. But doing a vehicle history check is essential if you want to save money in the long run.

Don’t be like some of us who completed a purchase without the car history check and spent more money on repair than the car. Not only will you save money, but getting a thorough inspection can prevent the mistake of buying an unsafe and unreliable vehicle and can ultimately save your life.

When you’re purchasing a used car, always be aware of red flags and never take the first deal offered. Whether you are purchasing the car through a dealer or a private seller, you should check the car history to help you make a wise decision.

5 things to check on vehicle history

Fortunately, there are many car history checks— some car report services are more expensive than others, depending on how detailed the report is. All you need is to know the car’s vehicle identification number (VIN) or the license plate number to start the report.

Faith Based Events

Whatever service you decide to go through, there should be 5 aspects of the car that should never go unchecked:


Compare the car history report with the vehicle’s odometer. One of the major red flags when purchasing a car is if the number of miles shown on the odometer is significantly lower than what is shown on the history report.

You should say goodbye to the car unless the seller has a solid explanation as to why the numbers are different.

Service history

Viewing the car maintenance report can allow you and your inspector to see if the maintenance was done correctly or not.

One of the biggest red flags you’ll see under a maintenance report is a significant vehicle component (such as the transmission or breaks) being replaced multiple times.

Damage or Stolen

If the car has been stolen, walk away from the deal. Unless you can console the police before purchasing, you might be the one put behind bars.

Any accident history should raise concern— be sure to check for any structural damage and the airbag deployments. Hiring an inspector to assess the quality of repairs can help you decide if the car is worth purchasing or not.


A car history report will also give you insight into the approximate market value of the vehicle, the price you could get it for after negotiations, and the average demand of the model.

Knowing both the value and the rest of the car’s history will help you negotiate to get the car for the price you can afford.

VIN check
Image: CarVerticle

Be sure to check that the VIN is the same on all three car areas and matches the report and the title.

If the VIN is different by one digit, you might have to fill out more paperwork to fix the issue. You can go to your local DMV to fix the issue, but if the VINS on the car is entirely different than the title, you’ve most likely encountered fraud.

Even with a full car history check, many problems are not listed because it was not reported.  Although some history car checks give you a checklist so that you can inspect the vehicle yourself and know what to look for, hiring a vehicle inspector could mean the difference between thousands of pounds or a life lost and a vehicle you can rely on.