Why A Used Car May be the Better Choice

Free VIN History Report: 3 Pieces Of Important Information You Should Pay Attention To

The recession had a huge impact on new car sales in America, as the average American can no longer afford to shell out money every couple of years on a new car. Instead, many Americans are opting to purchase used cars instead due to the fact that they are more affordable. If you're on the market for a used car and think you've found the one, don't get too excited just yet. You'll want to request a free VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) history report before you finalize the transaction. All you need is the Vehicle Identification Number of the car from the owner. Make sure to verify and double check the number yourself. The VIN history report will give you a good insight into the background of the car. In particular, here are 3 pieces of important information you should pay attention to when you get the report back.

The Date of the Registration Event or Renewal

Many people tend to focus most of their time scrutinizing over the past accidents that the vehicle has been in and other types of information without even taking a quick look at the date of the annual tab renewal. Although this may not seem like a crucial piece of information, a lack of a renewal each year can actually be a telltale sign that the car was:

  • likely broken at some point in time and required extensive repairs or
  • in an unreported accident.

If you do not see an annual tab renewal date, you should definitely voice your concerns with the past owner to determine what the reason behind it may be. Do keep in mind that some older vehicles may be missing renewal dates from years prior. You don't have to worry in these situations. Just make sure that the vehicle in question was being renewed in recent years.

The Presence of Cautionary Events

Other important pieces of information to look for in regards to the history of the vehicle is whether it was reported at an auto auction, repossessed or used as a rental vehicle. While these factors may not necessarily give you a good idea as to whether the vehicle is in good condition or not, it does raise some red flags. For example, if you notice that the vehicle was once in an auto auction, there is a chance that there might be something wrong with the vehicle. While the vehicles are generally repaired by the time that they are driven off of the lot, you cannot be too certain, and you should definitely get a much more detailed inspection before you purchase the vehicle. On the same note, if the vehicle was repossessed before, you can assume that the previous owner may not have maintained it properly. 

Regardless of whether these cautionary events are present or not, you should always have the vehicle inspected professionally. Still, the presence of these cautionary events are generally indicators that the vehicle was not in good condition at some point in time. 

The Reported Condition of the Vehicle 

After looking at cautionary events, it's important to jump straight to the information everyone generally looks at first, which is basically whether the vehicle has been in any type of accident whatsoever or whether the vehicle has failed any type of inspection during its lifetime. In particular, you want to see whether the vehicle was written off as an insurance loss at any given time or was involved in an accident. If it was, you want to look at the type of accident it was in and the damages that were reported. You should also consider whether the vehicle has been salvaged or rebuilt. This is a huge red flag. Generally speaking, you should stay away from salvaged or rebuilt vehicles, as they will generally require more maintenance and repairs than normal.

Other important factors to look at include statuses recorded for emission inspections and whether the vehicle was damaged due to water or storm. Water damage is particularly bad because it can take a while for the water damage to wreak havoc on electrical systems.


There are plenty of websites and companies that will provide you with a free VIN history report of any used car you may be interested in purchasing. Make sure you take a look at the history report first before you finalize the transaction in order to know what you are getting yourself into. If there are any red flags, you should take a step back and investigate further. There's nothing worse than investing a huge chunk of your savings on a used car that will only require more maintenance work or repairs in the near future.