An Accident on a Vehicle History Report: What Does it Really Mean?

October 15th, 2016 by
vehicle history report

If you are shopping for a used car, never buy one without checking its vehicle history report. Read on to learn what it means if a vehicle that interests you has an accident on its history report


Let’s say you’re shopping for a used car. You’re on the Internet checking out what’s available at different dealerships in your area. You come across a car that interests you and think you might want to check it further. You notice that the dealership makes a vehicle history report available for free so you check it out. As you can scan the report, you notice it lists that the car was in an accident. Now what?

In some cases, the vehicle history report may provide enough information for you to determine it was very minor and you feel fine about proceeding to check the car out in person. In other cases, however, the history report may not give any further information. All you know is that the vehicle was in some kind of accident. You don’t know what kind of accident or how severe it may have been, and you certainly don’t know anything about what kind of repairs were done.

If you’re still interested in the car, it may be worth doing a bit of legwork to see if you can find out more about the accident on the report. Talk to the seller to see if they know anything about the accident or can find out – and then decide whether or not you’re going to trust that information!

Go back to the history report for information about the vehicle’s title. What you’re searching for is anything that says the car has a “branded” title, meaning it was considered a total loss by an insurance company because repairing it would cost more than the car was worth. If someone did go ahead and repair it, it should have a “salvage” title or “rebuilt” title or something to that effect. If the car does have a branded title, it’s probably better to stay away from it unless you know enough or want to hire a trusted mechanic to determine if the repairs were done to high standards. Be aware, though, that if the damage was serious, there could still be hidden problems that don’t show up until weeks or months later.

Even if the title is “clean” you should still have a trusted mechanic check the car over thoroughly to see if they can tell what kind of accident it was in and give an opinion on whether it was properly repaired.

It’s also important to understand that just because a vehicle history report is “clean” (shows no accidents) doesn’t mean the car was never in an accident. Some accidents slip through the cracks and don’t end up on a history report. After all, a history report is only as good as the data sources from which it extracts information. This is another reason to have a trusted mechanic give a thorough examination to any used car before you buy it. Learn why it may be a good idea to have a used car independently inspected in our blog post about mechanical inspections.

If you are looking for a quality used car and happen to check out cars for sale by Auto City, you will find a vehicle history report available free of charge for every used car we sell. In case you have questions, we will be happy to help you make sense of all the information provided in the history reports.