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Checking the History of a Used Car

Checking the History of a Used Car

Although having a brand new car is often what most people idealize, it is not always realistic. A brand new car requires a large financial commitment and more often than not good credit. On top of both those hurdles, new cars lose a significant amount of their value as soon as they are driven off the lot. Although buying any product straight from a manufacturer is more straightforward, you may decide that you would like to go the second-hand route. If you do, it’s important you perform the proper background research beforehand so that you may be as informed as possible.

Although buying any product straight from a manufacturer is more straightforward, you may decide that you would like to go the second-hand route. If you do, it’s important you perform the proper background research beforehand so that you may be as informed as possible.

Luckily for you, in Canada, there are many different companies that offer vehicle history reports to Canadian consumers. In certain provinces (such as Ontario) there are also ways you can look into the vehicle’s history on your own by simply entering the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). Here is a quick breakdown of the services available to check any car’s history.

Trying to choose between leasing vs. buying a new car? Read this article

Ways to Obtain the Vehicle’s History


Well known for its efficiency, CarProof will be able to uncover a car’s history in both the United States and Canada. Using just the VIN, CarProof is able to trace back where the car was manufactured, its insurance and collision history, its odometer record, and also, whether there has been a security claim filed against it.
This kind of information obtained from CarProof is a real asset when refuting claims made by the seller. The seller may claim the car was only in a fender bender yet CarProof may indicate an accident with a $10,000 or more insurance claim. The report may not indicate exactly what the accident was but it will still be valuable information that could be the deciding factor in whether to buy or not.


This is an American site but you can receive a report anywhere in Canada. By going onto the CarFax website, you can click “Find a Car”. Then you can plug in the year, make, and model of the car you are looking for, along with your postal code. This site will then provide you with a list of dealers that are selling the kind of car you are looking for, along with a free CarFax report. This is a great time saver. Instead of finding a car and then obtaining the report, you are only looking at cars that come with a credible vehicle history.

Getting the Best Out of Your Research

Often times dealers will provide at least some information on the car’s history. Although this is a good start, as a consumer it is important to be as informed as possible because sometimes others do not have your best interests in mind. This being said, try to do as much research yourself as possible. You may uncover certain things about a car’s history that can alter its value. For example, the car may have been in a serious collision or the odometer may not read accurately. It is critical to be aware of all these variables before making your purchase.

Check out our infographic: New Cars vs. Used Cars. 

Here are some straightforward pointers you should keep in mind when doing your due diligence before you purchase your next car:

Attention to Detail

If a dealer does provide you with a report, don’t just focus on what’s written but also on what may be omitted. Also, pay close attention to the date the report was performed. If the report is not recent or lacks information, this should be a red flag.

Have the Car Inspected

Having the car inspected yourself will give you an objective assessment of the vehicle. The mechanic performing the inspection has no real interest in whether you buy the car or not, so his inspection should be neutral. Inspections usually take an hour and mechanics will charge their regular hourly rate for their labour. So in Canada, you’re looking at approximately $80 for an inspection.

Compare Sources

As we discussed, reports can have their limitations. Cross-checking more than one report can be an effective way of assessing just how accurate of a representation each report is. For example, if you are provided with a report, it’s in your best interest to have your own inspection performed. If the initial report was omitted certain information, it should show up after cross-checking the two reports.

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Posted by in Auto
Caitlin graduated from Dawson College in 2009 and completed her Art History degree from Concordia University in 2013. She started working as a freelance writer for Loans Canada right after University, eventually working her way up to Chief Content Editor. Her work has led to a large expansion of the company’s content department and she manages a staff of talented writers who are passionate about educating Canadian consumers about credit, debt, and all things personal finance. With over five ...


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