Buying a used car is something that many of us do because it can help us save money. After all, you can find some preowned vehicles for great prices, and often they are in great condition. That said, not all used vehicles are going to be in good condition.
You need to take care when buying a used vehicle. Previous owners may not have disclosed all of the relevant details about the vehicle to you. This is why it is important to get a vehicle check before making the final purchase.
A vehicle VIN check can provide you with all the relevant facts you need to make an informed purchase. At the end of the day, this can help you save money by ensuring that you aren’t buying something that’s going to end up costing you more for repairs in the long run.
The Importance of a Vehicle Check
There are a variety of reasons why getting a vehicle check is very important. Yes, it is best done before you purchase a used vehicle; however, even if you only manage to do the vehicle check prior to purchasing a preowned vehicle, it’s still better than nothing at all.
There is a lot of crucial information that you can get from running the VIN and checking the vehicle.
Mileage and Odometer Statistics
A vehicle check can tell you how far the vehicle has traveled over the course of its life. It can tell you how many miles the car has on it and how many miles were driven per year on average.
This is a good indicator of how old the vehicle is and how much it was used. Of course, you can have 2 cars, each 10 years old, but if one only has half the miles than the other one, you can guess which vehicle is likely to be in the better condition.
Another important piece of information from a simple vehicle check, also related to mileage, has to do with odometer rollbacks. Sometimes odometers are rolled back, which makes it appear as though the vehicle has traveled fewer miles than it actually had.
It’s a really sneaky trick, because if you purchase a vehicle that has had an odometer rollback, you could be in for a nasty surprise.
Information on Recalled Components
Another reason why it’s important to get a vehicle check before purchasing a used vehicle is because you want to know that all of the components in the vehicle are safe and road worthy.
The unfortunate reality is that many car manufacturers and retailers sell vehicles that may have defective components. It y would not be the first time that a set of brakes, a steering wheel, airbags, and other components have been recalled due to defects — this is all about your safety.
You don’t want to end up purchasing a vehicle that had a recall issued on the airbags, only to find out that the airbags were never actually replaced with functioning ones.
A vehicle check will inform you if any other components of your vehicle have ever been subject to a recall. You’ll also determine if the recall was executed on your vehicle and if the defective parts were replaced. Vehicle component recalls are done for the safety of all those on the road, especially you.
A Lien Check
Something that is very unfortunate, but happens more often than you might think, is that used vehicles still have liens on them. Liens are when you use something like a car as collateral to get a loan, or a mortgage.
The previous owner of the vehicle may have taken out a lien on the car to get a loan. But, what happens when the previous owner stops paying off that loan and has an outstanding debt? The creditors are going to come after the collateral, which in this case might be the vehicle you purchased.
You should always get a vehicle check because it would be unfortunate to wake up one day, be ready for work, and to see the repo man hauling your car away due to somebody else’s unpaid debt.
Doing a vehicle check prior to the purchase can help ensure that your vehicles aren’t caught up in some financial web of deceit.
What the Vehicle was Used for
Although this may not be quite as important as some of the other information you get from a vehicle check, is knowing what the vehicle was used for.
After all, there is going to be a difference in the condition of a car if it was strictly for personal use or if it was used as a police car, taxi, or rental vehicle.
It might not be the No. 1 indicator of the condition which the car is in, but it’s still something which many like to be informed of. If you find that your vehicle was used as a taxi for 5 years, it might be a good idea to get it thoroughly inspected.
Service History Information
Another reason why performing a vehicle check before making a purchase is important is because it can tell you the service history of your vehicle.
You will find out how often the vehicle was serviced, if it was serviced at the proper intervals, and if all necessary maintenance was kept up. You don’t want to buy a used vehicle only to find out that the oil was barely changed and the tires never rotated.
A detailed overview of the service history of your vehicle can go a long way in telling you what kind of condition it is in. If service was regularly performed, you can rest assured that the vehicle in question is most likely in fairly good condition.
However, if the vehicle’s service was frequently neglected, you might want to think twice about purchasing that specific vehicle.
The next important reason why you should always perform a vehicle check before making a purchase is to find out if the vehicle was ever severely damaged. A vehicle check can inform you of previous flood and hail damage, collision damage, and more.
You want to know if your vehicle has ever been in a collision, what parts of the vehicle were damaged, and whether any components had to be replaced, or are still damaged. Knowing that your vehicle does not have any existing structural damage, such as to the frame, is crucial to your own safety.
Not only is it crucial for safety, but for saving money. After all, making a vehicle with existing structural damage roadworthy is going to cost a lot of money and work put into it, if it’s even possible to make it roadworthy again. Even if the vehicle you have purchased was damaged in some way, at least you can tell whether or not it was properly repaired.
Airbag Deployment and Salvage Info
Related to the above point, whether or not the airbags were ever deployed is also an important thing to know — which a vehicle check can inform you of.
This lets you know that the vehicle was in a collision severe enough to cause the airbags to deploy. You might think that you are getting a great deal on the vehicle, only to find out that it was previously wrecked in a crash.
If the car was wrecked in a crash, it was either junked or salvaged. Salvaging cars is fine if the specific vehicle is salvageable.
If your previously owned car was salvaged, it’s something you want to know about, and you also want to know which parts were salvaged and which were replaced. This will give you a good idea of what kind of condition the car is in, the structural integrity, and what future repairs and service intervals might look like for you.
Branding and Registration
You will want to know if your vehicle has any branding associated with it. When a vehicle has been branded, it means that it has a permanent designation assigned to it.
These are assigned to components such as the registration, permit documents, and the title. This can tell you if the vehicle was written off due to damages, collisions, fires, floods, and other such things.
A car which has been in a major collision will be branded as such, or for instance, if there was a total loss suffered, this is something else that you can tell from the branding and registration information. It’s just a really good overview of the important history of the vehicle.
Making Sure it’s Legal
It wouldn’t be the first time that somebody has tried to sell stolen goods. This is something that does happen in the used car market, more frequently than most of us would like to admit, but it does happen.
People steal cars and then try to sell them, claiming that they are legal and legit. A vehicle check will tell you if the vehicle has been reported as stolen.
If you buy a stolen vehicle, if you ever get pulled over, you could land in hot water. Driving around in what essentially amounts to a stolen vehicle isn’t going to look good in a court of law.
Information on the Warranty
Just like with anything else you might purchase, whether brand new or secondhand, something you always want is a decent warranty. If something breaks or any component in your vehicle fails, through no fault of your own, you want to know that you are covered.
However, when you buy a used vehicle without doing a check, you might purchase one that has no warranty left on it. If you are buying a fairly old vehicle, this can be a problem.
Chances are that something will break down sooner rather than later, and if you aren’t covered by a warranty, you’re going to be responsible for the full cost. Many used cars, especially older ones, won’t have a warranty left on them, but it’s still a valuable thing to know either way.
Previous Insurance Claims and Total Losses
Another reason why it’s a good idea to do a vehicle check is to find out whether or not there were any previous insurance claims made on your vehicle. Of course, if there were previous claims, chances are almost 100% that your insurance premiums for that same vehicle will be more substantial.
Moreover, with a vehicle check, you can quickly find out if your vehicle was ever ruled to be a total loss. This means that the total money which the insurance company would have paid out would have been less than the repair or salvage costs.
This has made it more cost effective for the original owner to replace the damaged vehicle rather than to repair it; a car that is a total loss or write-off is not likely to be in good condition.
Conclusion – All About Saving Money
The bottom line is that there are a multitude of reasons why you always want to run a vehicle check before purchasing a used vehicle.
By doing this, you can ensure that the vehicle in question is safe to drive, that it is in decent condition, and that it’s not a lemon that will end up costing you more money to repair it than you paid for it in the first place.