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Car History Reports 101

Car History Reports 101

by Dale Cooper

Buying a car can be a significant investment. We try to make the best investment decision by asking all of the important questions before buying a vehicle, such as about the car’s accident and maintenance history. But the reality is there will always be questions you forget to ask, and you’ll never get the whole story. That’s why so many car shoppers research potential purchases using vehicle history reports. Let’s look at why these reports are important, what they contain and how they can save you money.

Why are car history reports important? Collecting and comparing available information about a vehicle is the best way to make an informed purchase. Even if the person selling a car is honest about the car’s history, he may not know everything. Since many people like to have a new car every few years, a car that is 10 years old could have easily gone through three or four owners. Vehicle history reports are important because they collect data from every car owner to provide a clear picture of that vehicle’s history.

What will you find in a vehicle history report? The information in a car history report is designed to help you make an informed decision when buying a used vehicle. The report is composed primarily of information that affects a car’s value. A few statistics included in the report are:

  • Ownership

  • Major accidents

  • Mileage rollbacks

  • Structural damage

  • Usage (lease, personal, taxi or police)

  • Total loss

These and other statistics can be found on a CARFAX Report. CARFAX is a popular provider of vehicle history reports. Other vehicle history report providers include AutoCheck and CycleVIN, which provides motorcycle history reports.

How can a vehicle history report save you money? Used in combination with the Kelley Blue Book, car history reports can help you estimate the value of a vehicle. Knowing the history of the car will give you a clear idea as to which Kelley Blue Book condition category the vehicle falls into (excellent, good fair or poor). You can then determine if the asking price of the vehicle is fair, or whether you should negotiate with the seller.

Once you buy your vehicle, make sure it is covered by auto insurance. Reviewing online car insurance ratings is a good way to make sure you don’t pay too much for auto insurance and that you get the coverage you need. It’s also a good idea to compare three or more auto insurance quotes before choosing a company.