11 Red Flags for Used Vehicles

What to Look For in a Vehicle History Report

Learn how to decode a report when you receive one

Woman looks at report on cell phone

1. Owners

How many previous owners has the vehicle had? Is the vehicle fairly new and has had a handful of owners? Used cars that have only had one owner are typically more valuable than vehicles that have had two or more owners. Look into whether the owners were private individuals, business owners, or rental companies to determine if the number of prior owners is a potential red flag.

2. Mileage

Mileage is a clear indicator of how much the vehicle has been put through. The more miles, the more likely the vehicle is going to run into an issue. This can also be compared with the age of the vehicle. A newer vehicle with a large number of miles could have issues soon after your purchase even if it was properly maintained.

3. Accidents

Accidents are tricky to gauge. Pay attention to the significance of an accident. Small fender benders are often reported but won’t affect the vehicle’s performance. Check if a history report says the car was declared total loss or salvage.

4. Repair Work

It’s refreshing to see recent repairs have been made on a vehicle you’re interested in. However, it could still indicate a recurring problem. Check the significance of the repair work and compare to the age and miles on the vehicle. Be aware of repairs made as quick solutions to larger problems that may affect you.

5. Title Information:

Make sure the titles have all been passed on correctly! Ensure there are no outstanding loans or payments on the vehicle. If there are, the seller doesn’t have complete capability to sell you the car.