Free Online Help in Buying Used Cars

August 10, 2008 by  
Filed under Spending

The spending/saving tip of this post is really part of my belief that buying a new car is generally a bad financial decision.  I have spoken in the past about people using lame excuses for buying new cars.   So, if I can do a little something to help used car buyers, all the better.

I have purchased many used cars over the years, many from private owners.  In doing so, I always asked questions about the car’s history because I was concerned about the car having been stolen or having been in a serious accident.  I could not be certain that the owner would tell me everything or even knew everything about the history of the vehicle.  Then along came Carfax, a company that will sell you a report on the car’s history using its database of information, as associated with the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).  Some car dealers would provide this for free if you asked for it.  However, my experience is that you will get a better deal on a used card from a private seller.

Now some of this same information is available online, for free.  The National Insurance Crime Bureau has introduced its VINCheck service.  This site allows you to enter a VIN for a vehicle you are considering purchasing.  VINcheck will then check its database to see if the vehicle has ever been reported stolen or declared a total loss by any affiliated insurance company.

The VINCheck report is not as comprehensive as a Carfax report but it is quick and it is free.  This makes it a good first step in making a decision about whether a prospective used vehicle is the right one for you.

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