Why You Should Check The History of a Used Car

When it comes to buying a car, for most people, getting a new model is the desired option. However, getting a brand new car is not always possible. In fact, it takes a lot of commitment financially and you usually need a favorable credit score. Not only this, but the value of a new car will be reduced as soon as you leave the dealership. While the process of purchasing a new car straight from a dealership can be easier to deal with, a used car, especially if it’s your first car, might be the better choice financially speaking. Always remember, if you do decide to purchase something second-hand, that it’s crucial to do a full check on the car’s history before spending your money.

In the United States, there several websites that you can use to do a background check on the used car that you’ve got your eye on, such as CarProof, CarFax, and AutoCheck. With any of these sites, you can enter the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) and get a history of the car, including how many accidents it’s been in, how many owners it’s had, etc. However, it is important to know that all of these sites charge a fee in order to get a car report done. See the various websites for more information on prices. Below, you’ll find a small description of each car report site.

Check out our infographic on how to choose the right financing for your next car. 

CarProof.com

Using this site, you’ll be able to check a used car’s history, whether it comes from the United States or Canada. In this case, you can simply enter in the VIN and CarProof will bring up the car’s location of manufacturing, its current mileage, a record of any accidents, any listed security claims, and its insurance information. Any of the details written in a CarProof report would be essential if you ever needed to dispute a claim that the car’s seller has made. For instance, that seller might tell you that their car was involved in a small accident. But, if you get a CarProof report done, it might show you that there was actually a $10,000 insurance claim for that supposed fender bender. While that CarProof report might not show you what the accident was, it’s a useful information to have and can help you decide if you really want to spend money on that car.  

CarFax.com

This is another website based out of the United States, but that you can use if you’re looking to purchase a car across the border in Canada. With this site, you’ll have a slightly more detailed search engine. Here, you’ll have the option: “Find a Car.” You’ll then be able to type in the make, year, and model of a car that you’re interested in. CarFax will then list all the dealerships in your general area where that model of car is sold. The cars at these dealerships will also come with a free CarFax report. Doing this will save you a lot of stress because instead of having to search out a car beforehand, and then get a report on it, you’ll be given a list of cars with proper, official histories.   

AutoCheck.com

With this site, you’ll have access to unlimited vehicle reports for $44.99, while both the sites listed above will charge you a flat fee for a single report, plus a small extra fee per report you file afterward. Besides this, the site works like CarFax or CarProof, in that they offer information pertaining to a car’s accident history, mileage changes, and engine repairs. However, one way in which AutoCheck differs from its competition is that it also lists cars that are up for auction. With these auctions, you’ll be able to obtain “Buyback Protection,” in case there’s anything wrong with the car mechanically. This option applies only to United States citizens.

Doing The Most Research Possible, and Getting Best Results

The most important thing you can do when you’re thinking of buying a used car is research it properly. True, most dealerships will give you some details pertaining to a car’s history, but it might not be every piece of information needed to get a totally accurate picture. They are businesses, after all, and will have their profit margin in mind, rather than your happiness. The same goes for private sellers. They want to get rid of their car and probably won’t care if you don’t get the most bang for your buck. This is why it is extremely valuable to do the most research you can when you’re thinking of spending thousands of dollars on something that can break down easily if it’s in bad shape. You wouldn’t want to buy the car, only to find out a few weeks later that it was actually in a major accident, or that the mileage has been rolled back.

All this being said, there are a few steps that you can take while you’re doing research:

Make Sure to Pay Attention to Detail

If a private seller or dealership gives you a car report, it’s important to not only take a look at what’s included in the information but to think about what they might not be telling you about. Something else you need to pay attention to is exactly when the latest car report was made. If a report is not clearly detailed and was not made within a reasonable timeframe, you should be suspicious of it.

Always Get the Car Inspected by a Professional

Another important part of buying a used car is getting it inspected properly. Make sure to take the car to a professional mechanic who can give you an accurate evaluation of anything wrong with the vehicle. While most good mechanics will charge an hourly labor fee, know that the general cost of an inspection will vary from place to place, and can also depend on what state you live in.

Compare and Contrast Reports

As we mentioned above, some car reports can only tell you so much about a vehicle’s history. Because of this, comparing and contrasting two or more reports can be a good method of determining how precise the information is. For instance, when the dealer gives you a car report, it can be beneficial to get the car inspected. If there is anything that was left out of the report, you should be able to spot it easier once you’ve compared the first report to the one you mechanic will give you.