Do Vehicle History Reports Improve Used Car Values?

by Don Elliott on April 27, 2011

Buying a good quality used car is all about having the greatest possible information to be able to make the best decision about whether a car is right for you and at what price. Historically, new and used car dealers have provided the service to inspect, recondition, and assure buyers about the condition of the cars on their lot. However, your automobile dealer may or may not have all of the information on cars taken on trade or purchased  from other car dealers. In addition, not all cars are sold through licensed auto dealers. Curbstoners and private sellers rarely offer enough information to make a good car buying decision.

Vehicle History Reports provide a third-party look into the past history of a car, truck, motorcycle, or recreational vehicle by including information gleaned from a variety of resources including the states’ Motor Vehicle title and tax records, police reports, insurance claims, dealership service records, auctions, body shops and other resources. The objective of the Vehicle History Report is to summarize a transparent, non-objective look at all of the details that could effect how much a car should be worth based on its condition.

Vehicle History ReportCARFAX, AutoCheck, and InstaVin, are the three best-known vehicle history report providers. Each company gathers information from slightly different resources. All of them use the 17-digit Vehicle Identification Numbers (VIN) as the unique identifier for their historical search. Typically, vehicle histories are only available on vehicles built after 1981, the year the 17-digit VIN was implemented.

CARFAX offers the following list of information that may be found in a CARFAX report:

  • Title information, including salvaged or junked titles
  • Flood damage history
  • Total loss accident history
  • Odometer readings
  • Lemon history
  • Number of owners
  • Accident indicators, such as airbag deployments
  • State emissions inspection results
  • Service records
  • Vehicle use (taxi, rental, lease, etc.)

AutoCheck provides additional information regarding sales at wholesale dealer auto auctions. InstaVin adds information from U.S. Government and Salvage history from NMVITS (the National Motor Vehicle Titling Association). Prices vary between the services noted herein, ranging from $2.99 for a limited report to multiple report plans for up to $44.99.

Regardless of which service you use, all vehicle history reports will provide an extensive look into the car that interests you. Cars that show a previous accident, multiple owners, or special use will typically have  a lower used car value than a car that has a “clean” vehicle history. Depending on your budget, it might be okay to overlook something in your car’s history that makes it less attractive to other buyers. Most important, having the information in your hand gives you the power to make an informed choice as to whether or not the car you are considering for purchase offers the right used car value for you.

Have you used a vehicle history report to help you make an informed decision about a buying a used car? Share your experience with us by submitting a comment.

Google+ Comments

Previous post:

Next post: