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How Can I Use Vehicle History Reports with Online Dealer Auctions?

By Mike Richards Updated: 05/22/2019 Posted: 07/19/2017

Online dealer auto auctions are a completely unique way in which you can buy a used or salvage car. Using them is much different than going to a local used car dealership, and almost definitely much better.

These online auctions level the playing field when it comes to buying a used car. This is because they give ordinary consumers access to the same kinds of savings that dealers enjoy when they’re stocking their inventories. In addition to this, online dealer auctions are eminently more convenient than shopping through a dealership. You don’t even need to leave your home! Plus, the level of choice you’ll get through these websites is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.

But, making the best use of online dealer auctions requires being a smart and informed bidder. For this reason, you’ll find that it’s sound advice to always request a vehicle history report for cars upon which you wish to bid. This is always recommended, as this history report is often the only real window you’ll have into a car’s state beyond what mere pictures can show you.

Requesting a Vehicle History Report from a Third Party

Online auto auction websites do not themselves provide history reports for the vehicles available. However, they do provide their users with the VINs for each vehicle displayed. With this VIN, you can go to a third-party website like CarFax and request a report. While this definitely constitutes an upfront investment in something you may or may not buy, you’ll quickly discover why it’s a worthy investment.

What to Look for in the Vehicle History Report

As it turns out, vehicle history reports can tell you a great deal about what condition a vehicle is in. Just think about the number of different things you can take a look at:

  • Number of Owners: More owners mean it is more likely that the vehicle has been mistreated over its lifespan.
  • Repossessions: If someone couldn’t afford to keep a vehicle, how likely is it that they could afford to keep up with maintenance?
  • Collision History: This one is just a no-brainer. Don’t you want to know what (if any) accidents the vehicle has been involved in?
  • Where It’s Been Housed: Different environments present different challenges for vehicles. A wet environment could mean hidden water damage.
  • Registration Lapses: Being irresponsible when it comes to keeping a vehicle street legal likely translates into irresponsibility when it comes to maintaining a vehicle.

The above are just some of the things you’ll learn in a vehicle history report. When you take everything into account, you can make the most informed bidding decision possible.

Why Research Is So Important in Online Dealer Auctions

It’s important to remember two things about online dealer auctions: All sales are final, and vehicles are sold as-is. Given that, having as much knowledge about a vehicle before bidding is of paramount importance. So, don’t skip this vital step! Be sure you request a history report before you hit the “bid” button!