If you are serious about purchasing any used automobile, you have a right to know exactly what you are paying for after making such a large investment. Car dealerships can only tell you so much, but they don't have the vehicle's complete history. You wouldn't want to invest thousands, or even tens of thousands of dollars in an automobile that will only give you grief. Obtaining a vehicle history report can prevent these future headaches.

There is a large volume of information included on a vehicle history report. Here are some examples of the more important details they provide:

Prior Accidents

Any accident involving the vehicle that was reported to any local or state law enforcement agency should be detailed on the report. You should be able to see exactly what types of repairs were required, including whether or not the accident caused structural damage to the automobile. Structural damage is definitely something that any possible buyer should be wary of.

Prior Owners

A thorough report should list each registered owner of the vehicle since the day it left the showroom floor. It will list the period of ownership for each owner and further details, including the odometer readings each time the vehicle exchanged hands and the states in which the vehicle was registered.


Calculating the mileage accumulated by each owner in the particular time period that they owned the vehicle shows how hard it was driven. You can use this information to deduce the approximate life expectancy of the automobile.


Automobiles that have been damaged in floods tend to have short life expectancies. You may not think of checking the vehicle's background for flood damage if you live in an area that is not prone to excess flooding. However, previous owners can move to a different area of ​​the country where no one would suspect that their trade-ins suffered water corruption. Even the car dealerships may not suspect anything. This why it is important to note which states the vehicle was previously registered in. Sometimes the relocation of a vehicle from certain areas can be a potential red flag for buyers.


Each time the vehicle was seen in the shop for routine maintenance or for repairs, it will be noted in the report. Not only is this an indicator of how well the vehicle was cared for, but it will also alert you to any overt issues that have not been documented elsewhere.

Where To Get A Report

Many car dealerships are more than happy to provide buyers with vehicle history reports at little to no charge. However, if this is not an option for you, you do have other ways of obtaining one.

There are several reputable commercial websites online that furnish complete vehicle history reports for a small fee of about $ 35. There is also a highly accurate, but little known site called NMVTIS, which is backed by the federal government. For two to seven dollars, NMVTIS will provide a well-detailed synopsis of the vehicle's history in accordance with guidelines set by the federal government.