A critical step in the used car buying process is getting a hold of the car history report.

What can a VHR check?

  • Car registration and ownership. The report includes records on car ownership, including whether the car was ever used as a rental car or taxi.
  • Vehicle accident. Whether or not the vehicle has experienced any serious accident that resulted in airbag deployment.
  • Vehicle mileage. Helps ensure that the true odometer reading has not been tampered with.
  • Car recalls
  • Used vehicles may be given a salvage title when they are no longer roadworthy as a result of damage from an accident, flood or fire, or if they have been stolen.
  • Car service records

Getting an accurate Vehicle history report requires knowing the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). If you are buying from a dealership like AMG Auto, the VIN is usually included in the used car listings. Several different companies offer this kind of services either for free or at a fee.

CAR HISTORY SERVICES

You can subscribe to these services or buy just one history report.

Carfax. One of the best in the business, provides very detailed reports. It includes information such as service department records. Single reports are sold for $39.99 and packages of five for $59.99. An unlimited subscription costs $69.

AutocheckIssues each vehicle a numerical score that compares the car to similar vehicles built that year to help put it in context. The company charges $24.99 for a single vehicle history report, $49.99 to access 25 reports within 21 days, or $99.99 for 300 reports in 21 days.

VinInspect. Less expensive than carfax, although might not provide the same amount of detail. Similar service is provided by VinSmart and MotoSnoop.

National Insurance Crime BureauThey offers a free VINCheck service to determine if a vehicle has been reported as stolen, or has been reported by an insurance carrier as a salvage vehicle. Their website allows five searches within a 24-hour period per IP address.

National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) – has a database of companies that issue vehicle history reports consistent with U.S federal legal requirements. Instant reports are provided without charge. It provides information just on safety indicators – the current state of title, the brand history, odometer reading, the total loss history, and salvage history.