How to Find a Vehicle History

by Richard Bowen


You are in a strong position to negotiate for a used car if you are armed with knowledge about the vehicle you intend to buy. Obtaining a vehicle history report can do this for you. Search the Internet for companies that provide vehicle history reports to prospective owners. These include Carfax, Autocheck and VINCheckpro. The cost for a vehicle history report is about $40, at the time of publication.

What Is It?

A vehicle history report documents a number of vital points including:

  • Title

  • Registration

  • Odometer reading

  • Lemon Status

  • Structural and frame damage

  • Accident information

  • Repairs and maintenance

  • Usage information

  • Totaled/loss data

  • Recalls


Title information reveals whether the title is for a salvaged, junked or flood-damaged vehicle -- a car that was declared junk or salvaged or was in a flood but is back on the road. You most likely do not want a car with these issues, because it can be hazardous to drive.


This information assists in the search for data about how the car was used previously and who drove it.

Odometer Reading

This tells you whether the car has actual mileage on it or if someone has altered the odometer.

Lemon Status

States keep records of cars that have been involved in lemon-law lawsuits. A car is a lemon if it has had major problems and the manufacturer buys it back from the owner.

Structural and Frame Damage

This is data pertaining to structural damage to the vehicle, which even a minor accident can cause.

Accident Information

This area of the report comes out of data about whether the airbags on the vehicle have ever deployed.


Always have a qualified mechanic inspect the vehicle before you buy it to check for structural-damage issues and evidence of previous accidents.

Repairs and Maintenance

This part of the report provides information about repairs the previous owner(s) may have made to the car and the maintenance he performed.


Ask the dealer or previous owner for any maintenance and repair records he may have for the vehicle.


This is information about whether the car was used privately or perhaps as a rental car, delivery vehicle or taxicab.

Total Loss Data

Insurance companies may declare a vehicle a total loss for their purposes, but someone may then purchase the car, repair it and put it back on the road. Total loss data supplies this information.


This tells you what recalls the car has been in and if any recalls are outstanding on the car.

Armed with a complete information, you are best prepared to purchase a quality vehicle and pay a fair price for it.

Items you will need

About the Author

Richard Bowen began writing professionally in college and he currently writes in the technology area. His book credits include four textbooks published by Mason Crest Publishing as well as five self-published books. Bowen holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Wisconsin.