Vehicle check is the procedure every used vehicle buyer should start with. Buying a used vehicle without proper check is very risky and may result is significant financial loss (the least of the disasters), problems with the police or even a serious threat to the driver's and passengers' lives. The list of potential hidden problems associated with used vehicles is immense: flood damage, severe accident that affects the vehicle's safety characteristics, theft, odometer scam, unpaid loan - to name just a few. Only a thorough vehicle check can help discover the real value of the vehicle and avoid these and other problems. You want to know as much as possible about the vehicle in order to buy safely, no matter how nice the car looks or what the dealer says!
What pre-purchase vehicle checks should always include
Pre-Purchase vehicle checks should always include VIN check (also known as VIN lookup), inspection by an independent qualified mechanic, test-driving, vehicle identity check (for the UK vehicles).
VIN Number Check
VIN check, also known as vehicle history check, is just your first and probably most important step. VIN check is a MUST. The result of VIN check is a detailed vehicle history report telling what happened to the vehicle in the past and what hidden problems it can have. VIN check helps discover the following information about the vehicle's past:
- Title problems (salvage, manufacturer recall, odometer rollback, rebuilt and other)
- Reported accidents
- Odometer problems and odometer reading checks
- Registration renewals and registration in storm areas
- Vehicle ownership check
- Reported theft check
- Airbag deployment check
- Specific vehicle use check (taxi, rental, police, government)
- Emission inspection records
- Maintenance records
- Major vehicle damage check (water, hail, fire, frame damage, severe accident)
Classic car VIN check is not so easy to do because classic car VINs are not standardized.
Independent Pre-Purchase Inspection
Independent pre-purchase vehicle inspection by a qualified mechanic is a critically important step.
The in-depth vehicle inspection may discover serious defects and problems not reported even during vehicle history check, such as essential wear due to poor maintenance or hard usage, parts that need to be replaced which seriously affects the vehicle's value and increases maintenance costs, potential airbag problems if the car was in an accident, hidden electrical and mechanical and problems. It is recommended to hire a mechanic that specialized in a specific make and model for best results. In some cases buyers cannot test-drive the cars themselves. In such cases test-driving is done by inspection experts and you buy the vehicle fully relying on their reports. That's when the reputation of the inspection shop is critically important.
Read how to choose used car inspection services
You can tell that the vehicle really suits you only after trying it out. "Feeling" the vehicle is very important. However, test-driving can play a malicious joke on the buyer: when the vehicle "feels" just fine car buyers tend to dismiss other essential drawbacks and that's what the seller wants to bring you to.
Vehicle Identity Check (VIC)
Vehicle Identity Check is used in the UK in order to prevent vehicle cloning, i.e. passing off stolen vehicle as rebuilt accident cars. Vehicle Identity Check is essential for those who buy UK accident cars. A Special VIC marker is used for Vehicle Identity Check. Read more about Vehicle Identity Check.
Boat HIN Check
All the same procedures apply to used boats. Boat HIN check services are also available today. The cost of reports is the same as with used vehicles.