Article By Acklam Car Centre

How Can You Check the History of a Used Luxury Car? A Comprehensive Guide

‍When purchasing a used luxury vehicle, it's essential to do your due diligence. This involves obtaining a comprehensive account of the automobile's past, known as a Vehicle History Report.This guide will delve into the usefulness of this report, its components, how to acquire it, and how to interpret it.

Understanding the Importance of a Vehicle History Report

The history of a used car can reveal a wealth of information, from its maintenance record to any accidents it was involved in. Just as you wouldn't buy a house without a thorough inspection, you shouldn't purchase a used car without understanding its history. A vehicle history report can provide this critical information, contributing to a well-informed purchase decision.

What Exactly Is a Vehicle History Report?

A vehicle history report is a document that provides detailed information about a used car's past. It collects data from numerous sources to help potential purchasers make informed decisions. A vehicle history report typically answers these crucial questions:

  • Ownership: How many people have previously owned this vehicle?
  • Accidents: Has the vehicle been involved in any collisions?
  • Mileage: Is the vehicle's odometer reading accurate?
  • Inspections: Has the vehicle undergone regular inspections?
  • Lemon Status: Has the vehicle been classified as a lemon?

What Information Is Included in a Vehicle History Report?

A vehicle history report includes a broad range of information that can provide insight into a used car's past. Here's what you can usually find in a report:

  • Major Accident
  • Mileage Rollback
  • Multiple Owners
  • Structural Damage
  • Vehicle Service History
  • Lease, Personal, Taxi, or Police Use
  • Total Loss
  • Rebuilt
  • Flood Damage
  • Airbag Deployment
  • Mileage Rollover
  • Salvaged
  • Hail Damage
  • Branded a Lemon
  • Last Reported Mileage
  • Junked
  • State-Owned
  • Length of Ownership
  • Estimated Miles Driven Per Year
  • Not Actual Mileage
  • Recall Information
  • Warranty Information

What Isn't Included in a Vehicle History Report?

Despite the wealth of information provided, a vehicle history report has its limitations. It relies on data submitted to the reporting companies and may not include recent incidents that haven't yet been reported. Furthermore, it doesn't provide a detailed assessment of the vehicle's current condition or the driving habits of previous owners.

When Should You Obtain a Vehicle History Report?

Acquiring a vehicle history report is advisable when buying or selling a used car.

  • As a buyer, the report can reveal hidden issues with the vehicle, such as previous flood damage or salvage labels.
  • As a seller, providing a history report can help allay potential buyers' concerns about the car's past, making it easier to sell.

How Reliable Are Vehicle History Reports?

The accuracy of a vehicle history report largely depends on the accuracy of the databases it draws from. Despite best efforts to keep information current, errors and delays can occur, resulting in incomplete reports. It's important to remember that a vehicle history report provides a snapshot of a car's past and not necessarily the complete picture.

How Can You Check the History of a Used Luxury Car?

Obtaining a vehicle history report is relatively straightforward. You will need the vehicle's 17-digit Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), typically located on the driver's side dashboard near the windshield. With this number, you can request a report from several providers, such as Carfax and AutoCheck.

For instance, you can access AutoCheck's service for easy assistance. Alternatively, you can use the National Insurance Crime Bureau's free VINCheck database to check if a car has been reported stolen or is a salvage vehicle.

How Much Does a Vehicle History Report Cost?

Typically, vehicle history reports cost between $25 and $40, with discounts often available for reports on multiple vehicles. Some dealerships and online auto marketplaces also provide free history reports for used vehicles on sale.

Free Vehicle History Reports

While it's possible to get a vehicle history report for free, bear in mind that a full report generally costs money. Free searches usually provide basic information and indicate whether a full report is available, but you'll need to pay to access the comprehensive data.

Next Steps After Viewing a Vehicle History Report

Upon reviewing the vehicle history report, it's recommended to take another test drive and listen to your instincts. If something doesn't feel right, it might be best to reconsider the purchase. The report can also be a valuable tool in negotiating a fair price for the vehicle.

Is a Mechanic's Inspection Still Necessary?

Despite the wealth of information provided by a vehicle history report, it should not replace a thorough inspection by a qualified mechanic. Professionals can identify hidden damage and assess the overall condition of the vehicle, providing reassurance and potentially saving you from future costs.

For instance, services like Alliance Inspection Management AiM Certify will inspect a vehicle at your location, with costs ranging from $129 to $349 depending on the service level.


In conclusion, a vehicle history report is an invaluable tool when purchasing a used car. It provides a snapshot of the vehicle's past, helping you make an informed decision and potentially saving you from costly repairs down the line. So, before you make your next purchase, make sure to check the vehicle history report and get an inspection from a certified mechanic.