Some used car dealerships have a pre-printed copy of the vehicle history report for every used car on their lot. They do this for transparency. When people can readily see issues in the vehicle’s history, they can make a more informed choice about what vehicle to buy or how much they should pay for it.
If the dealership does not offer the vehicle history report from a third-party provider at no cost, then you may only be able to access a report by paying for it. Saving a few dollars by not buying a report could end up being a big mistake if there are significant blemishes on the title history.
What could you potentially spot in a vehicle history report?
A salvage or flood damage title
Perhaps the biggest concern is that the vehicle went through such intense damage that it is no longer structurally sound. Although dealerships may repair totaled vehicles to resell them, vehicles already compromised in one collision may not offer as much protection in any subsequent crash.
They also typically have lower resale values than vehicles not involved in a wreck. A history that involved the vehicle flooding is another issue. The car on the lot could come from another state and have massive rust damage or even mold developing where you can’t see it.
A history as a rental or replacement vehicle
There are many companies operating in most major urban centers around the country offering rental vehicle fleets. There are also dealerships and repair shops that offer replacement vehicles while people wait for a professional to finish work on their vehicle.
People tend to drive more aggressively in vehicles that are not theirs. Replacement and rental vehicles can suffer significant damage before they get retired from a fleet. You simply have no way of knowing who has been in the vehicle or what they have done with it. That is true of any used car, but there could have been hundreds of other drivers if you buy a former rental car.
The salesperson who works with you knows that they get their vehicles from auctions with a lot of rental fleet cars or salvage title vehicles. These people have a duty to disclose issues with a vehicle before you buy it. If they do not tell you about issues and you purchase the vehicle for an unreasonable amount of money given its history or condition, they may have committed an act of dealership fraud.
A vehicle history report can help you avoid this situation, but many people learn this only after having an issue with a vehicle. Holding unethical salespeople accountable for used car fraud can compensate you and protect other consumers.