Vehicle History Reports - What They Mean & How To Understand Them

Vehicle History Reports - What They Mean & How To Understand Them

A Vehicle History Report Breakdown gives the past and current information of a vehicle. It can include or possibly not include many details about a vehicle.

  • Past Owners
  • Odometer Readings
  • Liens
  • Accidents
  • Flood Damage
  • Vehicle Title History
  • Fleet / Rental History
  • Stolen
  • Salvaged
  • Dates of Service
  • When & Where the Vehicle Was Registered
  • Recalls
  • Warranty
  • Air Bag Deployment
  • Dates Sold (You can see how long a dealer has owned it Or how long it has been sitting)
  • Dates of New Vehicles Delivered To Dealers

The recorded history of damage to a vehicle will impact the value  regardless of the significance the damage. This amount could be anywhere between 10-30% less of its market value due to its history. Major or structural damage would have more of a severe loss then a minor fender bender.


When you are involved in a minor accident, where it is completely safe to drive away you may want to rethink calling the police, filing a report and going through your insurance company for repairs. This will trigger an incident to be recorded on your vehicles history report and in some cases the description of the damage is not noted in the report leaving someone's imagination to run wild. Therefore your vehicle will then be deemed damaged goods and you will feel this at the time of a trade-in or sale of the vehicle. Now this may be fine with you if you plan on keeping the vehicle for a long period of time but if you plan on selling it anytime soon it will effect your bottom line. Depending on your deductible and the severity of what exactly was damaged it may be more beneficial to handle the repairs yourself and keep a clean report on you vehicle.


According to Car Gurus research,16% of all vehicle listings studied had an accident incident on record. The values of these vehicles were effected as much as 3-12% vs. the vehicles with clean history reports. Fleet vehicles accounted for 22% of vehicle listings, which were twice as likely to have a bad history report.

Vehicles with a bad history report should NOT be purchased for the same amount as the exact same vehicle with a clean vehicle history report!


Do not rely on just one vehicle history report company.  Run the Vin# through multiple companies and cross reference them for discrepancies on the reports. It's possible something may have been missed that the others picked up and disclosed on their report.


Always do your homework before your vehicle purchase and make sure you are getting what you're paying for. Also, if you plan to purchase a certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicle this does not mean it has a clean history report. It comes down to you and making sure that you research everything before you buy and never take someone's word for it!


Shop smart,
CEO & Founder & Girls Guide to Car Buying
Become A Confident Car Buyer!

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