How to Find the History Of a Vehicle

If you're in the market for a previously owned car, it's important that you know the history of the vehicle you're considering purchasing. Car histories will tell you about the previous owners, any past accidents or thefts and the mileage put on the car. Without checking, you might get stuck with a lemon. Read the tips listed below and learn about how you can find the history of a vehicle.

  1. Obtain the car's Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). This is a 17 character long fingerprint of your car's history that can outline its release from the manufacturer to the lot you're seeing it in. There are a number of reliable online resources, such as Autocheck, that will provide you with the complete history of the car in question. The report details if the car is free of problems, has been in accidents, is deemed a salvage vehicle or is a lemon. The report will also inform you as to whether the car has undergone odometer rollback or water damage [source: Reed].
  2. Purchase an unlimited vehicle history report. This option is available to used car dealers, and provides you with unrestricted searches on as many cars as you need with exclusive data and individual scores to help you make educated decisions about purchasing specific cars [source: AutoCheck].
  3. Consult your state's Department of Motor Vehicles and request a vehicle claims history. This will inform you of any damages that have been claimed and whether the car was rebuilt, altered, salvaged or deemed non-repairable [source: NYDMV]. This is a good option if you're not interested in the complete history of your car, but simply want to know if the car has ever been in an accident.