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Car History Report: Should You Check a Car’s History Report Before You Buy?

Buying a new car can be a daunting experience. There is the price haggling, the financing, and the negotiation that starts the second the car salesman sees you walk through the door. They are sizing you up, and you should be wary of their intentions, too. It can also be a whole different experience when you are buying a used car, as opposed to a brand new car that has never been driven before. You don’t know where it’s been, what could be wrong with it, and whether or not the previous owner properly cared for the car. 

Sometimes if a car has been in an accident and repaired you won't even be able to tell by looking at it.

All those repairs can be hidden, but can cause serious issues down the road. There is a little more reassurance if you buy the car from a dealership, rather than through a private owner, but buying from a dealership is still no guarantee you'll get a problem-free car. It's nice to believe the person you deal with will be honest and upfront about the car’s history, but there's really no way to know for sure whether you're getting the whole story or not. After all, the person wants you to buy the car, and may refrain from disclosing things that may stop you from making the purchase. To make matters worse, buying from a private seller or choosing to buy a car "as is" from a dealership leaves you very little recourse if something goes wrong with the car later on. 

At most reputable used car dealerships, you can request to see the car’s history report before you buy. The history report will let you know for sure whether the car has been in a flood or accident, as well as other useful information, such as how many owners the car has had. Being informed about your purchase may mean trading off some things you really want in a car, in favor of buying a car with fewer miles and a clean vehicle history report, but the trade off will be worth it. If you're working with a private seller or a used car dealership that doesn't offer a vehicle history report, you'll need to purchase the report yourself. Deciding whether or not you should buy a car history report will depend on several factors. To find out whether you should invest in the report, take the quiz below! 

Does the car have more than 15,000 miles on the odometer?
Where are you buying the car?
Can you see any noticeable damage on the exterior or interior of the car?
Do you have a mechanic you trust to inspect the car for you before you buy?
Do you live in an area that's prone to floods or other extreme weather conditions?
Will the car history report cost you extra?
Have you ever purchased a car before?
Do you personally know the person selling you the car (close friend, family member, etc.)?