We'll buy your car - no matter the condition!

Cash Auto Salvage

Selling Your Car? Why You Should Get a Vehicle History Report

Marc Skirvin
Marc Skirvin

What's in this Article

When selling your car, you have to be aware of the selling points your car may have that you may capitalize on during negotiations with buyers. You have to understand that buyers are looking for some good reasons why they should buy your car. 

What benefits would they get if they choose your car? What are the attributes of your car that are worth looking into? Is your car legally cleared and is there no adverse information about it? Considering all the inhibitions of prospective buyers, the best selling tool is the vehicle history report which buyers would definitely want to see.

A vehicle history report can help buyers make up their minds on whether your car is indeed worth buying or not. The key is the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), a unique 17-digit alphanumeric code typically found on the bumper or driver side’s jamb.

Or you can use your car’s license plate number.

A number of VIN and license plate lookups are available online. You may need to pay as much as $40 for a car report. However, no provider can claim to have the complete data on a car. If you prefer to pay to extract your car’s history, it may be wise to consult other reports to give prospective buyers a better picture of your car. Run a free VIN check or a free license plate lookup by simply providing the required VIN or license plate number. 

A comprehensive car report is sourced from a number of industry and government entities: 

  • Government agencies
  • Junk yards
  • Insurance companies
  • Salvage yards
  • Manufacturers
  • Car dealerships
  • Auto recyclers
  • Auto auctions
  • Law enforcement agencies
  • Collision repair facilities

What You Can Get from a Vehicle History Report

No less than your reputation as the seller is at stake when you present the selling points of your car. It can be quite tricky to manage recovering from the loss of a potentially great deal. 

It pays to be able to give the potential buyer a description of the car consistent with the vehicle history. 

To bolster claims on the car report and your personal knowledge of the car’s condition, you may want to have a certified mechanic inspect and work on your car. Trained eyes may spot issues that are not easily recognizable. Buyers appreciate the owner’s effort to have a competent mechanic take care of the car. 

Having said all these, let’s breakdown the most important set of data every seller must disclose to their buyers: 

Vehicle Specifications

Accessories and other features of the vehicle may have either been added on or taken out of the car in the past. This can also happen to its mechanical parts, however big or small. The current dimensions, shape and form may also not be reflected on the original records as the car may have been customized to suit the need of the previous owner. If some changes are favorable or impressive, the car report bearing this information can be used to justify its price tag. If some components are missing, it may have an adverse bearing on the price. 

Vehicle specifications that you can confirm with vehicle report include the make, model year, country of origin, city and highway mileage, type of engine, fuel type, and more.

Market Value

You may assert loudly that your car is the ‘best deal’ among all the other options. At the back of a potential buyer’s mind, it may come off as exaggerated and they may also question the price tag you put on your car. It is best to be as truthful and honest as possible. 

Work on a price and give them enough explanation as to how you arrived at such a price. Vehicle history may include statistics that correspond to reputable pricing guides, including these market-value related data: invoice price, MSRP, below market price, average market price, and above market price.

Safety Ratings

Automotive experts test vehicles to evaluate structural and mechanical integrity. Each unit is subjected to various safety and performance challenges. Based on the results, they rate these model brands from one to five stars. One is typically the lowest, while five tends to be the highest. Performance review groups may share their studies with third-party partners, including car history providers. These are the areas rated by the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS): 

  • Head restraint
  • Moderate overlap front
  • Frontal driver
  • Frontal passenger
  • Side driver
  • Side rear passenger
  • Side impact rear crash
  • Rear crash protection
  • Rollover

Sales Records

Sales records may shed light on past ownership, including the date and place of sale. If a unit changed hands many times over within a short span, this surely doesn’t paint a good picture of the car you are selling. Fast turnover is not a good sign. It reveals dissatisfaction on the part of previous owners.

Information on the listed price, color and mileage at the time of sale is likewise included in your car’s history record. The indicated mileage must show a pattern of progression per owner. If the mileage is regressing, the odometer reading might have been tampered with. This is done to inflate the price of a car as a low-mileage car could be re-sold at a higher price. Needless to say, it is definitely a deal breaker. 

Ownership Cost

What is the total cost of owning your car? You may use this information to set a favorable expectation to the buyer as to how your car compares to other cars for sale. Here are the factors that impact the cost of ownership: depreciation, insurance, fuel, maintenance, repairs, taxes, and fees. The good news is that a comprehensive car report can give you an ownership cost forecast for the first five years of owning your car.

DMV Records

Lest be forgotten, let us not miss on department of motor vehicle (DMV) records which cover the most important information on a car. Typically the vehicle title-issuing agency, DMVs disclose the legal status of a unit which is the first thing on a used car buyer’s mind. 

Here are the areas of interest that a car report may cover with reliable information from the DMV:

  • Theft check: It would be most unfortunate for anyone to have bought a stolen car. Police officers may confiscate it without compensating the innocent buyer who bought it. It could even give you some woes under anti-fencing law. Vehicle data providers sift through reports of theft and theft recoveries from industry sources and the federal crime bureau National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB).
  • Title brand check: Buyers would like to check if the vehicle has a title brand. It is assigned permanently on a car to indicate that it is a lemon, salvaged, flood damaged or wrecked vehicle. Or it may indicate that it was recovered from theft, abandoned or used as a taxi or a police car. Titles branded ‘salvage’ and ‘flood damage’ can drastically lower the value of a car. It usually means that the car that has been declared a ‘total loss’ by the insurer. In some states, salvage-titled vehicles may not be permitted to operate unless re-titled as ‘rebuilt’. If a vehicle is destroyed beyond repair, it may be classified as ‘irreparable’. This means the car may only be valuable for its working parts.
  • Lien check: You also want to assure potential buyers that there won’t be any hassles to buying your car like paying a lien-holder first. A lien is a claim to ownership of the vehicle by a finance company.
  • Accident check : A VIN check also looks for minor and major accidents, especially those that are covered by a police report. With around six million car accidents reported annually, there’s a risk of buying a car that may be unsafe to ride. Buyers will appreciate knowing your car has reliable and safe parts for the road.

Quick Takes on Successfully Selling Your Car

An affordable price tag or beautiful appearance may not be enough to entice buyers. A cheap or shiny car is not necessarily a good offer. Stick to the facts and refrain from exaggerating the attributes of your car. Do not appear overly promotional. Never pressure them during a negotiation. Never resort to hard selling. Give them some time to think over their decisions.

Establish your trustworthiness in their eyes before showing a car report. Make a good impression to influence them to hear the other things you have to say. If you can pull this one off, the rest of the negotiation can become surprisingly easy. Do more than what most sellers do when advertising a car. Be positively different.

If you think you may not able to deliver a sales talk well, let another person speak on your behalf. You do not want to leave a bad impression. Avoid being mistaken for a fraudster looking for victims to rip off. Such a mistake could scare away prospective buyers. Be direct to the point and keep the vehicle history report handy for quick reference. You may even want to encourage buyers to run a free VIN check on their own. Ultimately, a great deal leaves both the buyer and the seller satisfied with the transaction. 

Don’t want to deal with the hassle of selling a car? We’ll give you an instant online quote and buy it from you. Click here to get your quote in 90 seconds or less.

Share this!


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.

maximize cash offer on car

We'll buy your vehicle!

Wait! We REALLY Want Your Vehicle!

We pay up to $20,000 for cars, trucks, & SUV’s – no matter the condition. Get paid on the spot + free towing!

Or Call... 1-855-922-3095

There is no obligation to accept an offer.

Unable to verify mileage

Selecting “unable to verify” may decrease your offer and should only be selected if you cannot visually confirm the mileage of the vehicle upon inspection of the odometer.