How to Find Out If a Car Has Had an Accident

Shopping for a used car can be risky for a buyer. You don't know if the car you're about to buy has been in an accident or disaster. Obtaining a vehicle history report is a step you should consider. For as little as £16, you can find out if a car has electrical problems or been salvaged.

There are online companies that provide consumers with vehicle history reports. Some car dealers include these reports as part of their advertisement; other dealers provide links to the company reporting sites. Ask your dealer for a vehicle history report if the car you are looking at does not have one available.

Log on to the website of a vehicle history provider such as Carfax and Autocheck. Type in the vehicle identification number (VIN) to start. Other sites such as the Unofficial DMV Guide provide not only vehicle history information but updated state-by-state information on licensing, titles and other department of motor vehicles-related functions.

Choose a service plan and whether you want reports for one car or multiple cars. Cost varies by company but ranges in price from £16.20 to £38.90. Reports for a particular car could be records of warranty work done, flood damage, accidents, title transfers, emissions inspections--just about anything else related to the car that would generate a permanent or public record.

Decide if you want the vehicle report saved online or printed. Printing is probably the best option, particularly if you want to take advantage of any money back guarantee offered by dealerships.


Check the car very carefully. Vehicle history providers report only what has been reported elsewhere. If a car was in an accident and no claim was filed, you will not see this on the report. Any erroneous information about a car can be reported by contacting the vehicle history provider.

Things You'll Need

  • Vehicle identification number
  • Credit card
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About the Author

Julie Segraves is a freelance writer and photographer. She has written for several community newspapers in Chicago and authors her own blog. Segraves graduated from Loyola University with a Bachelor's in sociology and a minor in criminal justice. She currently works in the IT field as a mainframe operations analyst and disaster recovery specialist.