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How to Get the Best Vehicle History Report on Auction Cars for Sale

By Mike Richards Updated: 04/08/2020 Posted: 06/29/2017

Vehicle history reports are the bread and butter of used car sales teams, offering as much information as possible to convince all parties that a car is in good enough shape to be worth buying. Thanks to a catchy slogan and tons of marketing, Carfax is the most well-known and almost the best vehicle history report there is, but that doesn’t mean it’s always the best. Here’s why you should consider other history reports before you make a bid on those auction cars for sale.

Basic Information on Auction Cars for Sale

All vehicle history reports will provide most of the basic information:

  • Summary of the vehicle’s accident history
  • Overall evaluation of the vehicle’s current state
  • Details, dates, and locations of accidents or work done to the vehicle
  • The number of previous owners
  • Verification of mileage
  • Recall checks
  • Declarations from the insurance company (meaning the car is or was considered salvage)

Which Reports Offer More?

However, much of this information can be had for free with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s VIN Look-up Tool. There are other vehicle history reports that offer more and make buying auction cars for sale much easier.

  • AutoCheck rates each vehicle with an easy-to-understand score to compare to similar vehicles.
  • Carfax can show more service department records than other vehicle history reports, and usually sends reports much faster.
  • InstaVIN allows users to get an instant report on their mobile phone while cruising the auction lot.
  • Companies such as VinAudit, VinSmart, and CheckThatVIN offer reports similar to Carfax, but at much more affordable prices.

In general, most dealers go with either Carfax or AutoCheck, and each offers roughly the same benefits. They both tend to be great at showing previous owner information, previous accident information, and previous emissions scores.

Carfax does tend to be better at verifying mileage in most cases, but that isn’t always the case. However, AutoCheck allows dealers to run limitless VINs with a monthly fee, while Carfax charges by the check.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to buying auction cars for sale, the bottom line is that it’s important to check the VIN for any past issues. It’s far too easy for sellers to cover up lemons that have been recalled, old accidents that have had cosmetic repair, and other major issues. Even knowing that a vehicle has had quite a few owners can make a big difference in the resale value.

It’s also important to remember that a VIN check is no substitute for a good inspection once you get the car on your lot and are ready to sell. The vehicle history report can say a lot of things, but only an inspection will tell you if the car you bought at auction is in good shape right this second.

The more you take part in car auctions, the more you’ll learn to spot the best deals instinctively. Explore our Vehicle Auctions, as well as finding more information about How These Auctions Work.