Knowledge is power. Learning about the history of our country is important, but won’t affect your daily life nearly as much as learning the history of a potential used car you are looking to buy. While knowing the name of Alexander Hamilton’s wife might help you win a trivia contest, knowing the history of your car will save you far more money and heartache.
So, how do you find the history of a used car?
Each car has a unique vehicle identification number (VIN) that is essential in searching for the history. There are several free services that will do a search on your car history using that VIN number.
Carfax is probably the most well known source for searching for a car’s history (and the one that we use). You can search by the VIN or license number. A Carfax report will tell you the accident history, point of impact, even if the airbag was deployed. That is all really helpful information in your decision. It can also tell you the history of oil changes and other services performed on your vehicle, as well as how it was used and how many owners it had. Buying a used car is a bit of a puzzle, and it is helpful to have all the pieces. Bumper is another free resource for digging up the history of your potential car.
There is, of course, the reality that you get what you pay for. The free services might have their limitations, but there are companies ready to dig deeper and get you even more information. One such company is Vehicle History. For not too much money, they can give you a more detailed report on the history of the vehicle.
There are many more services than just the few mentioned above, but these are a few to get you started.
Be Your Own Sherlock
The car history can tell you a good bit, but there might be information missing. It can be quite a lot of information to comb through and understand, and sometimes the car itself can tell you even more. There are several things to look for as you inspect a car that can give you clues about it’s history.
Does Everything Match?
If the car history shows any damage sustained by natural disasters such as flood or fire, there are some specific things to examine to have a heads up for any future troubles. Does the paint all match? Look at the door panels to see if they are all the same, paying special attention to any large gaps or uneven surfaces. It will take time, but it is time better spent than in the waiting room of a repair shop. Plus, this time won’t cost you anything!
Check the Numbers
We have talked before about how to recognize an odometer that has been tampered with. Both tampering and inspection are more difficult with the newer digital odometers, but it is still good to take a good look at the plastic covering around the odometer to make sure it shows no signs of removal and replacement. If you did a search on the car history, it should clue you in on the actual odometer reading, but if the wear and tear and year of the car doesn’t seem to match the number on the dashboard, then trust your gut and keep searching.
The outside of the car is certainly the most exciting part, and we often spend attention on the dashboard and seats. However, the floor of a car can tell us a good deal. Water damage in the carpets and mats will be a clue to further damage in the car. Also, the wear and tear on the brake and gas pedals should be a reasonable match to the year of the car and the number of miles it has on the odometer.
Crime Does not Pay
Just because you are willing to pay money for a car doesn’t mean everyone is as honest. There are, unfortunately, people who would steal a car and then sell it to turn a pretty profit. Unless you want to accidentally join a carnapping ring, you might want to make sure your vehicle has changed hands willingly.
A first easy step is to ask for the Bill of Sale and Title from the current owners. Certainly, a person willing to steal a car isn’t above forging documents, but it is a good first step to avoid unintentional car theft. Whatever car history report you use will also offer good clues. The license plate can help as well. The police can do a search on the plate, as well as the make, model, and year of the car.
And, as in most things, trust your instincts. If something seems off or too good to be true, let this one go. There will always be another car around the corner.
Let Us Be Your Detective
While online searches and close examinations will help you dodge buying a lemon, there are things that can be missed. Buying a restored title car from a trusted source is a surefire way to make sure it is inspected, safe, and ready for the road. We are a used car dealership near Salt Lake City that specializes in selling quality rebuilt title cars all over the country. These cars have been meticulously repaired, inspected, and are ready to ship to you at a price that works.
History has important lessons for us. Hamilton tells us how it went for Aaron Burr, and the Google Doodle reminds us of historical celebrations daily. Your car will tell you its story if you know the right places to look. Call us for help.