All About Vehicle History Reports

January 9, 2020

Team ACV




All About Vehicle History Reports

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Buying a car that you haven’t seen in person may seem like risky business. But that’s where vehicle history reports can save the day. Reliable vehicle condition reports empower online auction car buyers to buy vehicles with confidence.  

The non-local car buying trend has grown since the pandemic, with more car dealers turning to online listings for quality wholesale vehicles. And vehicle history reports are at the heart of it all. 

Keep reading to learn what exactly a vehicle condition report is, why they get online buyers interested, why they matter to online auto auctions, and how to use one to sell more cars.

What is a Vehicle History Report

A vehicle history report, also known as a vehicle condition report or vehicle inspection report, is a complete assessment of a used car. The report provides an overview of the car’s history. This includes the general body condition, as well as finer details like, whether there are any interior odors. Today’s vehicle condition reports are visual, almost always containing pictures and diagrams. 

Whether you are buying a car online or selling a car online, a vehicle condition report is highly beneficial. A vehicle condition report serves several purposes:

  • It’s a part of the listing when buying and selling a vehicle either through an auction or directly from your car dealership. 
  • It notes the condition of a vehicle before and after servicing.
  • It documents the vehicle’s condition before and after renting.

What Does a Vehicle History Report Include

A detailed vehicle history report can both increase your chances of selling as well as potentially help fetch a higher price. However, some car condition reports are better than others. The best vehicle service history reports are detailed and transparent —don’t try to hide or downplay any issues, open recalls, or defects. Address them head-on.

A vehicle history report includes the following:

  • Owners: A list of previous owners, locations owned, and how long it was in their possession. 
  • Accident Report: A list of any accidents, if the airbags deployed, replaced parts, and repairs.
  • Damage Summary: Details on any visual body damage and known mechanical damage (i,e. Flood damage).
  • Service Records: Documentation of any repairs and maintenance.
  • Inspections: Information on each passed and failed inspection. 
  • Vehicle Specifications: The vehicle description should provide a good overview of the vehicle. 
  • Mileage: An accurate odometer reading after checking the odometer for a rollback.
  • Added Features: Information on any upgrades and extras that aren’t standard.
  • Missing Parts: Documentation about any missing parts, including accessories unrelated to drivability.
  • Tire Information: A general rundown of the condition of the tires. This should describe the tread and if there’s any wear.
  • Market Value: The estimated value of the specific car’s year, make, model, and trim.
  • Images: Images of every feature and fault that’s mentioned in the report.
  • Video: Many vehicle condition reports now include a quick one-minute video of the outside and inside of the vehicle. 

Where Can You Get A Vehicle History Report

There are a few services that provide free vehicle history checks for cars. Dealerships can also compile their own vehicle service history reports to help sell vehicles. Dealers can either use a software program with a preset condition report form or create a checklist to go by.

Potential buyers can request a vehicle history report known as a CARFAX and get a free CARFAX report. They may also turn to, which is run by the credit reporting agency Experian. All the buyer needs is the motor vehicle’s vehicle identification number (VIN) or the license plate number.  A free VIN check from the National Insurance Crime Bureau will look up if a car has been reported stolen.

Why Auto Auctions Use Vehicle Condition Reports

Whether you’re buying or selling at auto auctions, vehicle condition reports are a valuable tool. They’ll empower you to buy cars online with confidence and help you sell cars at top dollar. 

Buying at Auto Auction

Vehicle condition reports give automotive dealers the transparency they need. Dealers have to weigh the risk of buying a used vehicle online against getting a good price. The transparency of an in-depth condition report helps mitigate that risk. With one, the dealer feels like they are making a more informed buying decision.

Selling at Auto Auctions

Having a vehicle report as part of your vehicle listings will help you sell more wholesale vehicles. 

If you plan to sell cars at auction it helps to build a good reputation by delivering on what’s promised. That’s how you will get wholesale buyers coming back when you have a new listing. An auto history report helps set buyer expectations so that there are no surprises when the vehicle arrives. That means there will be fewer complaints and arbitration claims to deal with.

They also help to increase the number of bids. Since online auction buyers prefer to see an auto condition report, listings that include them will attract more bids. More bids typically mean higher bids.

Why Car Dealerships Should Use Car History Reports

Vehicle condition reports can help your car dealership increase sales as well. They do this in two key ways. 

Builds Confidence and Trust in Your Brand

Feeling confident in a purchase is everything. A detailed vehicle condition report boosts confidence and helps the buyer trust the seller more than they would without a report.

It also highlights a dealership’s commitment to quality, much like auto reconditioning services. Failing to have a vehicle inspection report can cost you time and money.

Attracts More Non-Local Buyers

Non-local buyers strictly rely on listings to make their buying decisions. Listings that include a wealth of information will be given more serious consideration.

A Powerful Sales Tool Whether You’re Buying or Selling Cars

Whether you are on the buying or selling end, a vehicle condition report can be highly beneficial. Vehicle condition reports demonstrate the seller’s commitment to quality and transparency. When you work with ACV Auctions, we create the vehicle condition report for you. It’s an added convenience for sellers and added assurance for buyers.

We look forward to helping you source and wholesale vehicles at ACV Auctions! Start finding great inventory by registering below.