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How to Get a Vehicle History Report for Four Dollars

Lyndon Bell
by Lyndon Bell
February 11, 2011

If you've read all the other articles on this site about buying used cars, by now you've got a pretty good idea of all the steps needed to ensure the used car you're about to buy is a healthy one. In addition to the information we've provided you on conducting a test drive, how to find a good mechanic, what to expect in terms of financing, how to read a used car warranty, and how to work with the various entities that conduct the sales of used cars, we're now about to show you how to get a Vehicle History Report for as little as four dollars and how find out if a car you're considering has experienced flood damage absolutely free.

Of course, the problem with all of this information is that it's in a number of different articles and it isn't really in a form that would make it easy to take with you when you go shopping for your car.

After considerable research, we've also run across an excellent checklist offered by the United States Federal Trade Commission that highlights all the key concerns you need to address when shopping for your next car.

You'll find it below.

In every article we've ever shared with you on purchasing a used car, there are two pieces of advice we always provide. Before making a decision to purchase a vehicle, you are strongly encouraged to obtain an independent vehicle inspection by a qualified professional mechanic, and further; you should always get a Vehicle History Report. At www.vehiclehistory.gov, you can actually get a Vehicle History Report for four dollars. You'll find a free flood damage report at the National Insurance Crime Bureau's (NICB) Website; www.nicb.org

The Federal Trade Commission also provides several used car buying tips on their web site: www.ftc.gov. A checklist encompassing all of the used car buying tips you'll find in other articles on this site'”as well as at the Federal Trade Commission's site'”is provided below.

Did you hire a mechanic to inspect the car for mechanical soundness and safety?

Did you test-drive the car under varied road conditions'”on hills, highways, and in stop-and-go traffic?

Did you examine the car following the steps outlined in the 'How to Test Drive a Used Car' article?

Did you check a trusted database service that gathers information from state and local authorities, salvage yards, and insurance companies for an independent and efficient review of a vehicle's history? (The Department of Justice's National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) at www.vehiclehistory.gov is an online system that offers accurate information about a vehicle's title, odometer data, and certain damage history. Expect to pay up to $4 per report. The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) at www.nicb.org maintains a free database that includes flood damage and other information so people can investigate a car's history by its vehicle identification number).

Did you ask for the car's maintenance record from the owner, dealer, or repair shop?

Did you research the frequency of repair and maintenance costs? (The U.S. Department of Transportation's Vehicle Safety Hotline (1-888-327-4236) and website www-odi.nhtsa.dot.gov gives information on recalls)

Did you talk to the previous owner, especially if the present owner is unfamiliar with the car's history?

Did you ask for the car's maintenance record? (If the owner doesn't have copies, contact the dealership or repair shop where most of the work was done. They may share their files with you)

(Source: U.S. Federal Trade Commission)

For additional information beyond what you'll find here regarding buying a used car (including questions to ask the dealer, understanding the implications of buying an "as is'”no warranty" used car, and questions to ask a private seller), please see the FTC's Consumer Guide for Buying a Used Car.



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