One of the mistakes that first time buyers of used cars often make is to judge the vehicle they are looking at simply by what they see on the garage forecourt and occasionally by how it runs on a test drive. However, the paperwork for a used car is also an important thing and should always be checked before committing to a purchase. The service history of a used car is one of the essential elements of the paperwork that should be looked at.
A vehicle history report can frequently be obtained for a used car that has been manufactured in any year since 1981. These reports can also often be ordered online and sometimes with a discount if you request several at one time.
There are a number of items in the used car report that you should look out for, as they may provide hints that the vehicle is not what it seems, that it is likely to be of less value or sometimes more value, than an initial inspection might reveal.
Among the more obvious items that might be revealed by a history report are the inspection history and the owner history. The inspection history should reveal if the car has had a recent check on its roadworthiness and its emissions rating and what the results of those tests were. If the results were poor, then the car is possibly one to be avoided. Likewise, the owner history should reveal if the car has had a number of previous owners or maybe just the archetypal "one careful owner". A history of several owners may indicate that there have been reasons for selling the car, which you might then want to look into further.
As well as the number of owners, the type of previous owner may also reveal something about the car. For example, an owner who operated a taxi company or who was a leasing agent may have put more miles onto the clock than a standard private owner. They may also have carried out more thorough maintenance work.
An important thing to check in the history of the car is whether there is a recorded history of accidents or damage.
If such incidents have been reported, then the descriptions may reveal points to check concerning the car, such as whether the airbags are fully functional or whether there is any possibility of water damage or rusting as a result of, for example, flooding.