Should I check vehicle history?

There are over 3.5 million vehicles deemed total-losses each year in the United States. Because of that it is very important to check vehicle history before buying a used car. Solidvin.com report checks for more than 60 issues: salvage titles, collision, total-loss, fire, flood, hail, odometer rollbacks etc.

NMVTIS Vehicle History Report

The National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) is designed to protect consumers from fraud and unsafe vehicles and to keep stolen vehicles from being resold. States, insurance carriers, and salvage yards are required by federal law to report data to NMVTIS. According to NMVTIS, their data providers include over 9000 insurance carriers, auto recyclers, junk yards and salvage yards and their database includes over 40 million salvage or total loss records. NMVTIS is also a tool that assists states and law enforcement in deterring and preventing title fraud and other crimes.

What is included in an NMVTIS Vehicle History Report:

1. Current state of title and last title date. Verifying the validity of the title helps prevent auto fraud and theft.

2. Brand history. Brands are descriptive labels (applied by state motor vehicle titling agencies) regarding the status of a motor vehicle, such as "junk," "salvage," and "flood." NMVTIS keeps a history of brands that have been applied to the vehicle by any state. Brand information helps protect consumers from purchasing a damaged vehicle that is presented for sale without disclosure of the vehicle’s real condition. Without knowing the brand history, a consumer may pay more than a vehicle’s true value or purchase a vehicle that has not been adquately repaired and is not safe to drive.

3. Odometer reading. The crime of odometer fraud may result in a consumer paying more than the vehicle’s fair market value or cause the consumer to purchase an unsafe vehicle. Also, checking the odometer reading helps consumers to identify discrepancies in the vehicle’s history.

4. Total loss history. When a vehicle has been deemed a total loss, generally the vehicle has had severe damage. Knowing whether a vehicle has been declared a total loss helps consumers avoid purchasing a potentially unsafe vehicle.

5. Salvage history. Similar to a vehicle with a total loss history, a vehicle that has a salvage history has had severe damage. Salvage history helps consumers avoid purchasing a potentially unsafe vehicle.

Problem checks:

Flood damage: A flood damage record means the vehicle damaged by freshwater flood (or it is unknown whether the damage was caused by fresh water or salt water).

Fire damage: A fire damage record means that the vehicle was damaged by fire.

Hail damage: Vehicle damaged by hail.

Salt water damage: Vehicle damaged by saltwater flood.

Vandalism: Vehicle damaged by vandals.

Kit: A Vehicle that has been built by combining a chassis with a different (non-matching VIN) frame, engine, and body parts. The VIN on the chassis is used as the vehicle's VIN.

Dismantled: The vehicle can only be sold as parts and can not be legally driven.

Junk: The vehicle is incapable of safe operation for use on the roads or highways and has no resale value except as a source of parts or scrap, or the vehicle's owner has irreversibly designated the vehicle as a source of parts or scrap. This vehicle shall never be titled or registered. Also known as non-repairable, scrapped, or destroyed.

Rebuilt: The vehicle, previously branded "salvage", has passed anti-theft and safety inspections, or other jurisdiction procedures, to ensure the vehicle was rebuilt to required standards. Also known as prior salvage (salvaged).

Reconstructed: A vehicle that has been permanently altered from original construction by removing, adding, or substituting major components.

Salvage damage or Salvage: Any vehicle which has been wrecked, destroyed or damaged, to the extent that the total estimated or actual cost of parts and labor to rebuild or reconstruct the vehicle to its pre-accident condition and for legal operation on roads or highways exceeds a jurisdiction-defined percentage of the retail value of the vehicle. The retail value of the vehicle is determined by a current edition of a nationally recognized compilation (to include automated data bases) of retail values. Salvage--Damage or Not Specified also includes any vehicle to which an insurance company acquires owner- ship pursuant to a damage settlement, or any vehicle that the vehicle's owner may wish to designate as a salvage vehicle by obtaining a salvage title, without regard to extent of the vehicle's damage and repairs, or any vehicle for which the jurisdiction cannot distinguish the reason the vehicle was designated salvage.

Test Vehicle: The vehicle is built and retained by the manufacturer for testing.

Refurbished: Any vehicle modified by the installation of a new cab and chassis for the existing coach which has been renovated, resulting in a vehicle of greater value or a vehicle with a new style.

Collision: Vehicle damaged by collision.

Salvage Retention: The vehicle is branded salvage and is kept by the owner.

Prior Taxi: Vehicle previously registered as a taxi.

Prior Police: Vehicle previously registered as a police vehicle.

Original Taxi: Vehicle is currently registered as a taxi.

Original Police: Vehicle is currently registered as a police vehicle.

Remanufactured: Vehicle was reconstructed by the manufacturer.

Gray Market: Vehicle was manufactured for use outside of the United States and has been brought into the United States. Brand '22' has been replaced by brands '45' and '46', as of 6/25/01.

Warranty Return: Vehicle returned to the manufacturer because of a breach in the warranty.

Antique: The vehicle is over 50 years old.

Classic: The vehicle is over 20 years old and adheres to other jurisdiction-specific criteria, e.g., vehicle make, condition, etc.

Agricultural Vehicle: The vehicle will primarily be operated on private roads for agricultural purposes.

Logging Vehicle: The vehicle will primarily be operated on private roads for logging purposes.

Street Rod: The vehicle has been modified to not conform with the manufacturer's specifications, and the modifications adhere to jurisdiction-specific criteria.

Vehicle Contains Reissued VIN: The chassis VIN has been reissued, i.e. the same VIN is reused.

Replica: A vehicle with a body built to resemble and be a reproduction of another vehicle of a given year and given manufacturer.

Totaled: A vehicle that is declared a total loss by a jurisdiction or an insurer that is obligated to cover the loss or that the insurer takes possession of or title to.

Owner Retained: A vehicle that has been declared by the insurance company to be a total loss but the owner maintains possession and ownership of the vehicle.

Bond Posted: The insurance company has issued a bond on the vehicle because the ownership of the vehicle cannot be proven; this allows the vehicle to be sold and titled. Note: This brand is not valid after January 17, 2003.

Memorandum Copy: The title document is a facsimile title and not the active (original or duplicate) title document.

Parts Only: The vehicle may only be used for parts. This code is no longer used, use '07 - Dismantled'.

Recovered Theft: The vehicle was previously titled as salvage due to theft. The Vehicle has been repaired and inspected (or complied with other jurisdiction procedures) and may be legally driven.

Undisclosed Lien: The vehicle has entered the titling jurisdiction from a jurisdiction that does not disclose lien-holder information on the title. The titling jurisdiction may issue a new title without this brand if no notice of a security interest in the vehicle is received, within a jurisdiction defined timeframe. Note: This brand is not valid after January 17, 2003.

Prior Owner Retained: A vehicle that was previously branded owner retained and was sold. The new owner's title contains this brand.

Vehicle Non-conformity Uncorrected: A non-safety defect reported to the jurisdiction by the vehicle manufacturer remains uncorrected.

Vehicle Non-conformity Corrected: A non-safety defect reported to the jurisdiction by the vehicle manufacturer has been corrected.

Vehicle Safety Defect Uncorrected: A safety defect reported to the jurisdiction by the vehicle manufacturer remains uncorrected.

Vehicle Safety Defect Corrected: A safety defect reported to the jurisdiction by the vehicle manufacturer has been corrected.

VIN Replaced: VIN replaced by a new state assigned VIN. A title should not be issued for the VIN. This brand can be issued for rebuilt vehicles.

Gray Market Non-compliant: Vehicle was manufactured for use outside the United States and has been brought into the United States. The vehicle is not in compliance with applicable federal standards.

Gray Market Compliant: Vehicle was manufactured for use outside the United States and has been brought into the United States. The vehicle is in compliance with applicable federal standards.

Manufacturer Buy Back: A vehicle that has been bought back by the manufacturer under jurisdiction -defined regulations or laws, such as lemon laws. For example, the manufacturer could be obligated to buy back the vehicle when a specified number of repair attempts fails to correct a major problem on a new vehicle, or if a new vehicle has been out of service for repair for the same problem for a cumulative period of 30 days or more, within one year of purchase.

Former Rental: Vehicle has been used as a rental vehicle.

Salvage Stolen: Any vehicle the reporting jurisdiction considers salvage because an insurance company has acquired ownership pursuant to a settlement based on the theft of the vehicle.

Salvage Reasons Other Than Damage or Stolen: Any vehicle the reporting jurisdiction considers salvage based on criteria, such as abandonment, not covered by the Salvage-- Damage or Not Specified and Salvage--Stolen brands. Note.--Percent of damage is not reported with brand code 50.

Disclosed Damage: The vehicle has sustained damage to the extent that the damage is required to be disclosed under the jurisdiction's damage disclosure law.

Prior Non-Repairable / Repaired: A vehicle constructed by repairing a vehicle that has been destroyed or declared to be non-repairable or otherwise declared to not be eligible for titling because of the extent of damage to the vehicle but has been issued a title pursuant to state law after falling within this criterion with this brand on the face of the certificate of title.

Crushed: The frame or chassis of the vehicle has been crushed or otherwise destroyed so that it is physically impossible to use it in constructing a vehicle.

Odometer Actual: The true mileage for the vehicle. The odometer has not been tampered with, reached its mechanical limits, or been altered.

Odometer Not Actual: The odometer reading is known to be other than the true mileage for the vehicle.

Odometer Tampering Verified: Odometer tampering verified - The odometer reading is known to be other that the true mileage for the vehicle, due to tampering.

Odometer Exempt from Odometer Disclosure: The vehicle falls within criteria that allow it to change ownership without disclosure of the odometer reading.

Odometer Exceeds Mechanical Limits: The odometer reading is less than the true mileage of the vehicle because the odometer can not display the total number of true miles.

Odometer May be Altered: The titling authority has reason to believe that the odometer reading does not reflect the true mileage of the vehicle because of an alteration to the odometer.

Odometer Replaced: The odometer in the vehicle is not the odometer put in the vehicle when manufactured.

Odometer Reading at Time of Renewal: The odometer reading was recorded when the registration was renewed.

Odometer Discrepancy: The titling authority has reason to believe that the odometer reading does not reflect the true mileage of the vehicle because of known previous recorded values of odometer for the vehicle.

Odometer Call Title Division: The titling authority knows of some problem with the odometer reading that it cannot print on a title. Titling authority will discuss the problem (manual process) with authorized inquirers.

Odometer Exceeds Mechanical Limits Rectified: A state other than the brander corrected brand 72.

NMVTIS Disclaimer:

The National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) is an electronic system that contains information on certain automobiles titled in the United States. NMVTIS is intended to serve as a reliable source of title and brand history for automobiles, but it does not contain detailed information regarding a vehicle’s repair history.

All states, insurance companies, and junk and salvage yards are required by federal law to regularly report information to NMVTIS. However, NMVTIS does not contain information on all motor vehicles in the United States because some states are not yet providing their vehicle data to the system. Currently, the data provided to NMVTIS by states is provided in a variety of time frames; while some states report and update NMVTIS data in “real-time” (as title transactions occur), other states send updates less frequently, such as once every 24 hours or within a period of days.

Information on previous, significant vehicle damage may not be included in the system if the vehicle was never determined by an insurance company (or other appropriate entity) to be a “total loss” or branded by a state titling agency. Conversely, an insurance carrier may be required to report a “total loss” even if the vehicle’s titling-state has not determined the vehicle to be “salvage” or “junk.”

A vehicle history report is NOT a substitute for an independent vehicle inspection. Before making a decision to purchase a vehicle, consumers are strongly encouraged to also obtain an independent vehicle inspection to ensure the vehicle does not have hidden damage. The Approved NMVTIS Data Providers (look for the NMVTIS logo) can include vehicle condition data from sources other than NMVTIS.

NMVTIS data includes (as available by those entities required to report to the System):
- Information from participating state motor vehicle titling agencies.
- Information on automobiles, buses, trucks, motorcycles, recreational vehicles, motor homes, and tractors. NMVTIS may not currently include commercial vehicles if those vehicles are not included in a state’s primary database for title records (in some states, those vehicles are managed by a separate state agency), although these records may be added at a later time.
- Information on “brands” applied to vehicles provided by participating state motor vehicle titling agencies. Brand types and definitions vary by state, but may provide useful information about the condition or prior use of the vehicle.
- Most recent odometer reading in the state’s title record.
- Information from insurance companies, and auto recyclers, including junk and salvage yards, that is required by law to be reported to the system, beginning March 31, 2009. This information will include if the vehicle was determined to be a “total loss” by an insurance carrier.
- Information from junk and salvage yards receiving a “cash for clunker” vehicle traded-in under the Consumer Assistance to Recycle and Save Act of 2009 (CARS) Program.

Consumers are advised to visit www.vehiclehistory.gov for details on how to interpret the information in the system and understand the meaning of various labels applied to vehicles by the participating state motor vehicle titling agencies.