When buying a used car, it’s important to review the vehicle history report. There’s no better way to find out where a car has been and what it’s been through. Still, you need to know what you’re looking for. Here’s how you can use the vehicle identification number (VIN) to avoid buying a lemon.
What is a VIN?
A vehicle identification number is a 17-digit series of numbers and letters that provides various bits of information about the vehicle, such as where it was built, who the manufacturer is and what some of its features are. VINs can also be used to pull vehicle history reports.
How can I check my car’s history?
The National Insurance Crime Bureau offers a free service called VINCheck to indicate if a car has been reported as stolen but not recovered. It will also reveal if a car’s been reported as a salvage vehicle. For a full report, complete with all minor repairs and recalls, you can purchase a vehicle history report from major companies such as AutoCheck and Carfax.
What is a salvage title?
If your vehicle history report reveals a salvage title, proceed with caution. Salvage titles are triggered when insurance companies deem a vehicle more costly to repair than it’s worth. Usually, this is the result of a major accident, flood or fire. Such vehicles can be dangerous if not repaired correctly or if the damage is too severe.
In the end, all the reports in the world won’t guarantee you’ll never have problems with your used car. However, with an inspection and a quick peek into its history, you’ll have a better idea of what you’re purchasing.