Checking the Vehicle History Report on a Used Car

woman checking vehicle history on computer

A vehicle history report can be helpful when buying a used car. Sources such as and provide copies of vehicle history reports.

Why Is a Vehicle History Report Important?

A vehicle history report provides details about a car’s ownership, accident history, title status, mileage and more. As a potential used car buyer, it’s important to have this information about the car’s history to help you make an informed decision about whether you should buy it and how much you should pay for it.

How Do I Get a Vehicle History Report?

To get a vehicle history report, you can fill out an online form on Carfax, AutoCheck, or another history report provider. When viewing the report, check and make sure the car’s VIN (vehicle identification number) matches the number on the report.

What Should I Look for in a Vehicle History Report?

A wealth of useful information can be found in a vehicle history report to help you make an informed decision about the used car you’re considering. Here are several pieces of information you should look for when checking a vehicle history report:

  • The vehicle’s accident history
    A car’s accident history typically consists of data from state motor vehicle departments (DMVs), insurance companies, collision repair shops, and law enforcement agencies to generate a list of any serious past accidents.

  • If the vehicle has undergone any other damage
    It’s important to know whether the used car you are considering has suffered from damages other than collision, such as fire, flood or hail damage.

  • If the vehicle has been reported lost or stolen
    If the car’s history shows that it has been stolen and not recovered, you may want to make additional inquiries.

  • The vehicle’s title history
    A vehicle history report should show if the title is branded, which can indicate issues with the car including if it was totaled and rebuilt.

  • When and where the car has been sold
    A comprehensive vehicle history record should show when it first entered service plus when and where it was resold in the following years.

  • Number of owners
    Using public records and other indicators, Carfax and other report providers can piece together the number of owners the vehicle has had.

  • Odometer reading
    Car history reports can confirm the odometer reading you see on the vehicle's dashboard.

  • Service history
    According to U.S. News & World Report, Carfax and other history reports will often show when and where major periodic maintenance and other repairs were performed.

  • Inspections and registrations
    Every state requires vehicles to have their registrations renewed, and many states require specific motor vehicle inspections be performed periodically.

If you’re in the market to purchase a new or used car and need to get approved for auto financing, a car dealer enrolled in the Credit Acceptance program can help! Simply fill out the form on our Start Your Credit Approval page to get started.