This is the third of three articles on vehicle history and other information for classic vehicles. This article covers why to get a History Report when buying or selling – or just owning – a classic vehicle. The first article covered differences and similarities in VINs and title data for modern and classic vehicles. The second article explores what specific information is available in a report for a classic vehicle.
Since it is now possible to obtain history information about pre-1981 “classic” vehicles from trusted sources such as VINData, this article covers why it’s important to get a report when either buying, selling or even just owning a classic vehicle.
Why Get A VIN Check Report – Buying Your Next Classic
So you think you’ve found the unicorn that you’ve been looking for. Everything about it seems good – it’s the year, make and model you want, the price is right – even the color is what you want. Now what? A good next step is purchasing a classic car history report – one like the Classic History Report that VINData offers.
Because so many transactions in the classic vehicle market are private (no dealer or auction involved), if there is fraud, it can be hard to recover funds. Protecting yourself upfront is never a bad idea – especially when important information is so easy to obtain.
Know What You Are Buying
When you are considering buying any used vehicle and you have the VIN, getting a history report is a perfect next step. You can use this information to continue to consider vehicles that have history information that you expect and possibly exclude vehicles which have history that perhaps doesn’t match the buyer’s story about the vehicle or has a surprise salvage or other branded title.
On average, VINData History Reports show branded titles or other major issue like active theft as much as 10% of the time. That means that about 9 out of 10 times, you will get a report that is “clean”, meaning free of reported major issues.
A clean report is good news and likely what you want to see when you are considering buying a vehicle. When the history is reflected in the report, see article one for why it might not be, you want to see the title information line up with what the seller says – such as they know they bought the vehicle in a certain timeframe, the paper title they have matches what the report says. They may know when the previous owner bought the vehicle – and that can be reflected in the report.
Bad vs. Benign Events
Some DMV title events are considered “bad” and can reduce the value or show that the safety of the vehicle may be compromised. Look for brands labeled “warning” such as Junk or Dismantled brands, or Salvage brand without an accompanying Rebuilt brand.
Other common bad brands impact the odometer reading, such as Not Actual Mileage (NAM) which means that the odometer reading cannot be trusted and it’s known to not be actual. Exceeds Mechanical Limits brand is similar, but usually indicates that the odometer has rolled over an indeterminate number of times.
Examples of benign brands are Antique or Classic – indicating that the vehicle is known to be older than a certain age such as 25 or 50 years old. See article 2 for more information on brands and other events.
Buying a Branded Title Vehicle
There’s nothing that prevents you from purchasing a vehicle with a branded title. You are going into the transaction with your eyes open. Be sure to understand that some states won’t let you retitle a vehicle that has been branded as Junk or Dismantled. You might be buying a branded title vehicle because you are intending to use it as a donor vehicle – so this is to be expected. You will just want to ensure the vehicle isn’t an active theft.
The National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) DMV sourced title data and other NMVTIS records will ensure that when you arrive at the DMV to title your newly purchased vehicle, you can glide smoothly through the process. You will already know as much title history as the DMV knows. Here is a list of DMV contact information by state.
Now, the DMVs will have additional information about each record, such as title number, lien status and name and address of the titleholder, but the key publicly available information such as when the title was issued, state, odometer reading, and any associated title brands are reported in a VINData Classic History Report.
Time to Let Go – Selling Your Classic
When it’s time to sell – it can be a hard decision and it can be nerve-wracking, especially when you are dealing with out of state shoppers. You can inspire confidence by providing potential buyers with a current copy of the VINData Classic History Report right up front.
When the History Report is Clean
When the History Report is clean, you get to tell your story in a way that dovetails with the details in the report. You will be able to share details about title events for your ownership and potentially the title events that correspond to previous owners. The report supports your story, which can provide peace of mind to your buyers, and they know you are above board. Remember, VINData Classic History Reports do not contain name and address of previous owners.
When the History Report isn’t Clean
Sometimes the vehicle will have a branded title or other negative event. Assuming the event is accurate, you can disclose the negative event to the buyer before they find out about it themselves – which builds credibility and trust. You don’t want buyers to discover negative information on their own as it could give them reason to back out of a deal before it’s done.
When There Isn’t a History Report Available
This usually also helps to support your selling story – for instance, if you’ve owned the vehicle for a long time and there isn’t a report available, that supports your story. If there had been a title event from say 3-5 years ago, that kind of doesn’t.
Intra-ownership – Neither Buying nor Selling
Now that you own your dream car, getting a history report on it now can help you better understand reported history on your vehicle. If the title information from your purchase is on the report, you can ensure that it’s accurate.
The report might show that the vehicle was titled multiple times during your ownership if you changed the name of the titleholder (put in or took out of a trust for example) – again you can ensure that this information is accurate.
You even might uncover an unrepaired recall, which you will want to get fixed ASAP.
Now that you have your vehicle and your report, you should know that VINData is always adding new sources, so an annual check is worth the expenditure. Happy Motoring!