In an effort to save money, many of today’s drivers opt to purchase a used car opposed to a brand-new ride. However, there’s a certain risk factor involved in buying a pre-owned vehicle. In order to avoid purchasing a lemon, you must take the necessary precautions. Obtaining a car history report will definitely give you an extra peace of mind.

Here’s what to look for in the report.

Past Ownership

When purchasing a used car, it’s important to obtain facts about past ownership. The car history report should reveal this vital information. While some people take great care of their ride, others neglect to keep it serviced on a regular basis. One-owner vehicles tend to be in better overall shape. Automobiles that have changed ownership several times are less predictable.

The chances of every owner keeping the vehicle in tip-top condition is slim. You should also consider the fact that problematic vehicles often change hands. People will quickly sell a vehicle that’s constantly in the shop. You definitely don’t want to get stuck with a car that has a challenging repair issue.

Liens on Vehicle

Try to avoid purchasing a used vehicle that has a lien on it. A lien means that money is still owned on the vehicle. For example, the current owner may not have finished paying the bank for a financial loan. If you unknowingly purchase a vehicle that has a lien on it, another party could repossess it from you at any given time. You will not fully own the vehicle until the debt is paid off. This means you could be forced to forfeit your hard-earned cash.

A car history report will alert you to a lien. It will list the name and address of the individual who owns the money. The report should mention the lender as well.

Title and Accident History

Knowing about a previous accident can help you avoid a lot of unnecessary stress. Even a relatively minor crash can impact a vehicle’s performance. Although a car may look great at first glance, it could have hidden structural damage. While some wrecked cars have been perfectly repaired, others are not as fortunate. Your naked eye probably won’t be able to spot the underlying imperfections. This is why getting a vehicle history report is so important.

Airbag deployment and frame damage are definite red flags. You should also stay far away from flood vehicles. These automobiles can become a living nightmare for owners. From severe rust to electrical issues, there are several problems that may arise in the future. Cars damaged in a fire tend to be just as risky. If you encounter a vehicle that has a salvage title, do your homework before deciding to buy it.

Aside from the potential repairs that may be needed, you must also think about the vehicle’s safety. This is especially true for the drivers who will be hauling around their loved ones.

Maintenance Records

When it comes to buying a pre-owned vehicle, service records are worth their weight in gold. Unsurprisingly, well-maintained vehicles tend to demand more money on the used market. The extra care is considered to be a valuable asset. A comprehensive car history report should tell you when a particular service was performed.

Although it’s a good idea to get the vehicle inspected by a certified automotive mechanic, having a detailed service history is just as important. Maintenance items, such as regular oil changes and periodic transmission servicing, can greatly extend the life of a car. A well-kept used vehicle can deliver a trouble-free performance for many years to come.

True Mileage

Ideally, you should avoid getting a high-mileage vehicle. Although some cars are more durable than others, the best approach is to buy a ride that doesn’t have a lot of miles. Shady sellers recognize the attraction of a low-mileage car. To lure buyers, they will replace the vehicle’s entire instrument cluster with one from another vehicle. A 150,000-mile vehicle may display only 80,000 miles on its odometer. The vehicle history report will reveal the automobile’s true mileage.


When looking over the vehicle history report, keep an eye out for recalls. While some models may have a simple issue, others may require a major component to be replaced. Recalls can have a big impact on the dependability of a vehicle. They may also influence the car’s safety. You definitely want to be aware of this information.

Over the years, vehicles have been recalled for a wide range of different defects. Faulty brakes, exploding airbags, and leaky fuel lines are just a small sample of the various recalls. Although the automaker covers the cost of the required repair, you will need to schedule an appointment for your vehicle. The car history report will tell you if the recall has already been performed.

What’s Not on a Vehicle History Report

There’s no denying the value of a detailed car history report. However, it won’t tell you everything about the vehicle. The names of past owners are not listed on the report. It only mentions the total number of previous owners. Furthermore, maintenance isn’t always reported. Some do-it-yourselfers opt to service their own vehicle. Most importantly, a car history report can’t replace an actual test drive. Although you may have a lot of facts about the car’s history, nothing beats actually taking it out on the road.

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This article was worked on by a variety of people from the Autoversed team, including freelancers, editors, and/or other full-time employees.