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17 Red Flags to Watch for in a Vehicle History Report

17 Red Flags to Watch for in a Vehicle History Report

Here are the 17 red flags to watch for in a vehicle history report:

1.    The number of owners

2.    Car accidents types

3.    Stolen cars

4.    Title washing

5.    Salvage titles

6.    Weird odometer reading

7.    Vehicles recall

8.    Vehicles liens

9.    Lack of service

10. No registrations

11. Emission test issues

12. Significant damages

13. Exposure to snow and salt

14. Rental history

15. Multiple reports

16. Symptoms of major problems

17. Hire a professional

Buying a car is one of the most expensive investments after buying a house. Unfortunately, if you don’t have enough experience in the used car market, it is very easy to get scammed and buy a car with significant problems.

Auto Repairs Are EXPENSIVE


The good news is that you can take advantage of the vehicle history report, which includes priceless information about all that you need to know. Unfortunately, however, many car shoppers out there don’t know what exactly to look for in the vehicle history report.

This article walks you through 17 important red flags to watch for in a vehicle history report. In addition, the article helps you understand the importance of each red flag to help you prevent getting scammed in the used car market. Read on!

What is the vehicle history report?

Before we discuss the details about “red flags to watch for in a vehicle history report,” let’s first understand what a vehicle history report means and why it is a core element in any used car purchase process?

The vehicle history report is a document summarizing how good owners took care of this vehicle. More specifically, the report includes all details about previous owners, current mileage, accidents history, etc.

By just knowing the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), you can easily pull a vehicle history report from common online platforms like carfax.com or probably autocheck.com. Keep in mind that these online platforms charge you between $25 and $40 to get a copy of the report. Otherwise, you can reach out to the dealership, which typically provides you with a free copy of the report.

If you decide to go with the online platforms to get your vehicle history report, you can fill the VIN and request a copy. You can find the VIN number at the lower corner of the driver’s side on the windshield. Confirming that the VIN number matches the number on the signed contract or the paperwork is extremely critical to make sure that you're buying the right car.

The vehicle history report adds a second layer of confidence in the car purchase process. For example, suppose a private buyer handed you a copy of the vehicle history report. In that case, this indicates that there are no major issues in the vehicle, and the seller is not trying to hide anything.

17 red flags to watch for in a vehicle history report

As we indicated earlier, although the vehicle history report contains valuable information, many car shoppers don’t know what to watch for when reviewing a vehicle history report. To make your life easier, here are the 17 most important red flags to watch for in a vehicle history report:

1.    The number of owners

According to AutoBlog, “The more garages a car’s been in, the less likely it’s been lovingly cared for all its life.” Therefore, the first and most important information to look for before purchasing a car is how many owners did the car have? When there are too many owners, it indicates that there might be something wrong with the vehicle making people sell it immediately.

2.    Car accidents types

It’s not rare for vehicles to get involved in car accidents, which means that you will likely find car accidents records on the report. However, the important element to look for here is the type of car accident. In other words, some minor car accidents don’t require major repairs. However, other accidents require structural repairs, which are what you need to look for.

3.    Stolen cars

Knowing that a vehicle was stolen once is good enough to discourage you from purchasing it. It is not about whether the current owner is the legal owner; it is about what happened to the car when it was stolen.

Thieves typically remove all important components and sell them separately to make the most money out of the car. Therefore, there is a very high chance that some core components were replaced in the car, which might not match the quality of the original components.

4.    Title washing

The vehicle history report obviously won’t tell you if the car was title washed. But it can give you some hints, especially if you found that the car traveled several states within the last couple of years.

With too many states on the vehicle history report, you can tell that the seller might be trying to hide something related to “title washing,” especially with salvaged titles that you can change in different states. There are online resources that provide you some detailed information about how likely it is for title washing in your state.

5.    Salvage titles

You're not familiar with the salvage title; you should read in detail about its puritan somewhere; this title indicates that a specific vehicle was in bad condition, that a certain state declared his house a total loss. In other words, this vehicle might have significant problems beyond repair.

6.    Weird odometer reading

Another important information to look for in the vehicle history report is the odometer reading. Once you see this reading, compared to the current reading on the vehicle’s dashboard, you must walk if you notice that the dashboard is telling you a lower number than what's listed on the vehicle history report.

According to experts at cargurus.com, “If the mileage on the report doesn’t match the number on the vehicle’s odometer, it’s a sure sign that the odometer was rolled back, which is an illegal practice,”

7.    Vehicles recall

When looking at the vehicle history report, it is important that you check for any information related to brand recalls. For example, certain manufacturers might recall vehicles due to problems with the design or probably the manufacturing process. Therefore, you can't know whether the vehicle was taken care of properly to address the recall or not.

If you realize that the car said in a dealership for repair for extended times, it might indicate that it was not serviced properly. It is also important that you familiarize yourself with a common problem about a certain vehicle and read through the type of recalls to check whether they target important systems like safety or probably some of the major components like the engines. It's safer to stay away from such vehicles whenever possible.

8.    Vehicle’s liens

If you don't already know, if the title specifies that there is a lien on a certain vehicle, the current owner cannot sell it until the lien is cleared out. Therefore, take a look at the vehicle history reports and understand whether any information indicates that the current seller cannot sell the vehicle. You will most likely find language like “ this indicates that [a private seller] does not have the right to sell the car and is likely a scam.”

9.    Lack of service

Of course, you won't find information about every single maintenance or service on the vehicle history report. But some major services should be included in the report indicating that the car was taken care of properly.

According to experts at depaula Chevrolet, “Things like brake, timing belt, and wheel bearing replacements, as well as other major repairs, should be noted [in a vehicle history report] to give you an idea of when the repair should have happened versus when it happened.”

10. No registrations

The vehicle must be registered, and if you find gaps in registrations, it might raise a red flag indicating that the vehicle has a problem. Therefore, you must follow each year and confirm that the vehicle was officially registered. According to experts at Seattle auto, “Be careful if you don’t see a renewal each year, as that indicates the car was likely broken, was in an unreported accident, or had some unknown reason for not getting renewed.”

11. Emission test issues

When the history report shows that the car did not pass the emission test, it indicates a major internal problem. Typically, the emission tests check an important element related to the exhaust system that indicates that the vehicle has issues and emits harmful gases if the vehicle did not pass the test.

According to experts at rd.com, “So if the vehicle history report shows that your prospective used car failed an emissions test once but has since passed with flying colors, don’t worry.”

When you're purchasing a car from a private seller, you must follow your state's regulations to confirm if the seller can sell you the car without housing the emission test. Dealerships are not legally allowed to sell you a car without passing the emission test, so you should not be too worried about this component when buying a car from the dealership.

12. Significant damages

Another important piece of information that you will find on the vehicle history report is whether the car was involved in hail, fire, or water damage. All these situations cause significant issues. However, you should walk away no matter what because it is hard to reveal hidden problems by visually looking at the vehicle without hiring a professional mechanic. According to experts at hotcars.com, “no amount of repairs can ever make the car truly safe.”

13. Exposure to snow and salt

The vehicle history report tells good information about where the vehicle lived if you notice that the cars at most of their life in cold areas where they got exposed to a lot of snow or salt waters, it indicates that the vehicle might have problems internally even if these problems were not showing visually.

14. Rental history

When a couple of owners owns a car, these owners won't overuse it, and it will still have enough capacity to serve you for the next couple of years. However, if you would notice that the vehicle history report is telling you that the car was rented at some time of its lifetime, you should stay away from this type of vehicle because a rental car is overused by many people, which means that it is not what you should be looking for your next purchase.

15. Multiple reports

If you want to take it to the next level, you might order multiple history reports from different agencies. Some agencies might not be up to date with everything that happened to the vehicle, so if you know that this will be a big investment, it might be worth purchasing a second or third history report and taking a detailed look at it.

16. Symptoms of major problems

Along with the vehicle history report, you might want to familiarize yourself with the different symptoms indicating a bad internal problem in the vehicle. We've discussed before in detail symptoms indicating a bad transmission, engine, catalytic converter, etc.

The more you know about these problems, the easier it is for you to detect issues and prevent purchasing a car with major mechanical problems that could throw a wrench in your purchase down the road.

17. Hire a professional

If you're still uncomfortable with Walt understanding only information listed in the vehicle’s history records, one of the safest ways to help you prevent purchasing a car with major damages is to hire a professional. Typically, the mechanic will have a better idea about what could go wrong in the vehicle by just riding it for a couple of minutes.

Therefore, if your next purchase is relatively expensive, it won't hurt to add a small portion of your budget to hire a mechanic to prevent dealing with major problems.

Conclusion

The vehicle history report is critical paperwork that every car shopper should look for. Although there is a lot of information that you can take advantage of from the report, some shoppers are still not familiar with what exactly to look for in this report.

This article walked you through 17 important red flags to watch for in a vehicle history report. By watching fear for these red flags and understanding how to inspect the vehicle or probably hiring a mechanic visually, you guarantee not to buy a car with major mechanical problems.

If for any reason, you purchased the car with major problems or if you own a vehicle that has significant problems and no one wants to buy it, you can always reach out to Cash Cars Buyer!

The good news is that Cash Cars Buyer is willing to remove your vehicle within one to three days only! Cash Cars Buyer is one of the top-rated car removal companies in the nation that guarantees to pay you the top dollars and provide you with free towing despite your living location around the United States.

Our process is very straightforward and doesn't take more than a couple of days to get your car removed safely and for the most money.

All it takes you is to:

  • Describe your car’s type and condition
  • Receive our instant free quote
  • Accept the quote
  • Get your car removed and receive your cash payment on the spot!

To learn more about our process and our teen, you can reach out to us by giving us a call at 866-924-4608 or visit our home page click on the free instant online offer.