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Red Flags to Look For in a Vehicle History Report

Marc Skirvin
Marc Skirvin

What's in this Article

Besides a home, a vehicle is one of the biggest purchases anyone can make. Not everyone can afford a brand-new car right away, which is why many opt for used ones. To get the best value for their money, these buyers do their due diligence and ensure the car they are purchasing has been well-cared for. One way to do this is to check a used car’s history report. 

This report tells a lot about the second-hand vehicle, including maintenance history, previous owners, and previous accidents. Despite easy access to this information, spotting red flags can still be tricky. To have an easier time doing this, here are some signs a used car is not worth the money:

Lack of Repair or Maintenance History

Vehicles that are only 1-2 years old might not have needed repairs. However, consider older cars that didn’t receive any repairs as a negative sign. A report without a repair history might indicate that the seller didn’t list down the repairs, or the owner lived with the problems that required repair and chose to neglect the vehicle’s maintenance. 

Many Repairs 

No repair at all is a glaring red flag, and so are many repairs or a major one right before the second-hand vehicle is sold. This is because a long history of repairs or a recent massive one means that the used car has persisting issues and will likely require more maintenance and repairs in the future.

Multiple Previous Owners

A relatively young car with more than one owner every several years can signify that these owners are keen to get rid of the vehicle. If a car is under five years old and has more than two owners, there’s a good chance that it has many problems and needs costly repairs. 

Missing Annual Registrations or Tax Renewals

A used, unregistered car was most likely off the road for a long time. If it was parked all this time, it might not perform as well as it should, even if it was in excellent running condition when it was parked. This is because vehicles generally deteriorate when left unused for long periods. Another possible reason a second-hand car might be unregistered for a long time is that it wasn’t road-legal. 

Water Damage

A used car’s history report that shows signs of water damage suggests that the vehicle is prone to experiencing issues down the road. Water damage can have a long-lasting impact that can cause corrosion and electrical damage. Before purchasing, a buyer should perform thorough vehicle inspections and test out all of the car’s electrical components.

Outstanding Recalls

A car with outstanding recalls potentially has a serious safety problem. Previous owners must be responsible for returning the vehicle and getting it fixed by the manufacturer. When such a car is being sold, the buyer has to drop the vehicle off at a dealership, which can be time-consuming and inconvenient.


A vehicle history report is essential in the buying process, especially when the buyer plans to purchase a used vehicle. If you are selling a car for cash, these red flags should not be included in your history report to attract more potential buyers and establish your credibility as a seller.

Sell a used truck, van, SUV, or car for cash by reaching out to Cash Auto Salvage. We take the hassle out of the car selling process and give you an online offer in 90 seconds or less. Contact us today!

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About the Author


Marc is the Co-Founder of Cash Auto Salvage and Director of daily operations. He retired from a leading Internet Marketing company in 2013 and has been involved in the automotive industry ever since.

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