Depending on the make of the vehicle and its age, there are lots of potential red flags that could appear on a District of Columbia license plate search. Some are worse than others, but all of them should at least make you rethink whether the car you’re considering is a good value, and whether potential problems would be worth dealing with later on.
1. Are there any liens on the vehicle?
Sometimes people will use vehicles as collateral for loans. This means that that if you buy the car, it won’t be legally yours. To avoid this costly mistake, perform a free license plate check or free VIN search before you buy, to make sure that the title of the vehicle is clear to be sold.
2. Check for any title classifications
Besides just liens placed on the vehicle, there are several other title issues that you should look out for. You should also make sure that the title isn’t considered a “junking title,” “salvage title,” “flood title,” or “rebuilt title.” The District of Columbia vehicle history report will tell you what kinds of titles have been issued to that vehicle since it was new. A junking title is one that is issued when a car has been sustained damages valued at more than 75 percent of its worth. This title means that the car needs to be junked and isn’t safe to drive. A salvage title means that a car was considered totaled by an insurance company, while a rebuilt title means that the car has been rebuilt and inspected by the DMV. Either of these may mean that the car has hidden damage or problems that could be costly later. A flood title means that the vehicle had water flood its engine compartment, which often renders the engine a loss, or at the very least, a costly repair.
3. Does the seller own the car?
If you’re buying from an individual rather than from a used car dealership, you should check to make sure that the name of the person selling the car is the name that’s on the title. Otherwise you may be buying a stolen vehicle. A quick, free VIN search will tell you who’s name is on the title of that vehicle.
VINCheckPro.com provides fast, free access to your vehicle’s District of Columbia vehicle history report. All you have to do is enter the vehicle’s license plate number or VIN number, and you’ll gain access to valuable information that can help you make an informed decision on your next used car purchase. While you comb through that information, be on the lookout for any red flags that can mean a car is more work—and more money—than it’s really worth.