7 Things a Vehicle History Report Can Tell You That a Mechanic Can’t

If you’re in the market to buy a used car, then you’ve hopefully got a checklist of things to look out for and have read up on common scams and mistakes you should avoid. One thing that is a common mention in all guides and websites is the fact that buying a used car without checking out its’ history is dangerous. This article covers 7 Very Important Things a Vehicle History Report can tell you that a physical inspection or a even a skilled mechanic might miss.

Car Mechanic at Work

Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

The 7 Things a Vehicle History Report Can Tell You

Title Problems and Brands

Vehicle History Reports will look up over 60 different title brands and tell you what each title brand means. A title brand is not something you can see on the car physically, especially since the actual physical title of the car might not have the branding on it.

Total Loss Records

DMV Vehicle History Reports allow you to check the DMV Records to make sure that the title is not a TOTAL LOSS, which will save you quite a bit of headache if you didn’t already know that. Especially since Total Loss brands affect vehicle value quite a bit.

Accident History

Sure, a highly skilled mechanic might be able to tell you that a vehicle was in an accident or that the fender was replaced. But can they tell you <em>how many times</em>? It’s a fact that a car that’s been in multiple accidents will have a higher chance of failing you than a car that’s been in only 1 (or no) accident(s). If you and your mechanic know of multiple accidents, you can keep an eye out for other not-so-obvious yet possibly more expensive damage.

Odometer Rollback and Tampering

Vehicle History Reports keep track of registered mileage. How’s this useful? If the mileage on the vehicle history report is higher than what you see on the odometer; you’ve got a possible fraud on your hands. That’s not something that you’d be able to know without a Vehicle History Report.

Title and Vehicle Historical Registration INFORMATION

One thing no mechanic can tell you is how many owners the car has had and where it’s been registered. A simple way to find that out? Look at a Vehicle History Report; it displays the locations the title was registered along with information on what type of registration it was; New Registration (usually a new owner), Renewal, etc.. Another good thing about seeing historical registration information? Was the car you’re looking at registered in New Orleans in 2005 and then elsewhere a few months later? It might be a Hurricane Katrina car.

History of Reported Flood and Water Damage

Flood and Water Damage is a very difficult thing to spot. Changing out the carpet (approximately ~$250 for a sedan) in a flooded car would get rid of the smell, leaving you clueless about the rotting wiring underneath; A Vehicle History Report would display the Water Damage Brand on the title (assuming the insurance reported it to the DMV, which it is legally required to do).

Junk/Parts Only Title Warnings

Similar to a salvaged title, a Junk and/or Parts Only title is issued to a vehicle that has heavy damage to it. Having established that, A heavily damaged vehicle can be repaired to be unrecognizable to the untrained eye, so you might be thinking that you’re buying a vehicle that’s in good condition. The Problem? A Junk or Parts Only title means that the car cannot be repaired, registered, and legally driven. The seller of such a car can try to scam you into buying the vehicle which you would not be able to legally drive. A Vehicle History Report would tell you if the vehicle had a Parts Only or Junk Title so that you could avoid making that costly mistake.


In the past, vehicle history reports were monopolized by one big company and the pricing was straight up crazy (let’s not point any fingers at the Fox Mascot, eh?); this is no longer the case. There are many smaller Vehicle History Reporting companies that offer cheap vehicle history reports. Where do these companies get their data? DMV and Insurance Records – about as accurate as it gets with Vehicle History Reports.


No system is perfect. Vehicle History Reports will only show data that was submitted to them, meaning that if an accident was not reported to the insurance or DMV, it might not show up on a Vehicle History Report. What do we recommend? Our recommendation is that you pair a Vehicle History Report with a physical inspection by a trusted reputable mechanic to make sure that all your bases are belong to us are covered. You can find a list of cheap Vehicle History Reports on THIS Page. And if you’re in the market to buy a used car, USA.Gov also has a good article on buying used cars with Tips, Advice, and Links to useful resources.


  1. […] If you’re buying a used car, then don’t forget (in addition to taking your car to a mechanic) to check the Vehicle History of the car, since there are things that a Mechanic Can’t Tell You About Your Car that a VIN Check can. […]

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