All About Vehicle Condition Reports

Buying a car that you haven’t seen with your own eyes can seem like a risky business. But that’s exactly what 50% of online auction car buyers do. The non-local buying trend is on track to continue; more and more car dealers are turning to online listings to find wholesale vehicles.

Like consumers, dealers are getting more comfortable buying online, though there are exceptions. If there’s not a lot of information about the vehicle available, dealers will be hesitant to buy. A study from Manheim Online discovered that listings with an in-depth vehicle condition report are up to three times more likely to lead to a sale than a listing without a report. The reports that these buyers expect to find aren’t the old-school vehicle inspections, written out on a piece of paper—those also tended to be inconsistent in quality.

Keep reading to learn exactly what a modern day vehicle condition report is like, why it gets online buyers bidding and how to use them to generate more revenue.

What is a Vehicle Condition Report?

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

A vehicle condition report can serve several purposes:

  1. As part of the listing when buying and selling a vehicle through an online auction.
  2. To note the condition of a vehicle before and after servicing.
  3. To document the vehicle’s condition before and after renting.

Whether you are on the buying or selling end, a vehicle condition report can be highly beneficial.

How Does a Car Condition Report Benefit a Dealership?

An auto condition report increases the likelihood of a sale. Autoxloo found that having a thorough vehicle condition report led to a 65% increase in sales at auction. Failing to have a vehicle inspection report can cost you time and money.

Here are a few more reasons why a car condition report can help you get top dollar at auction.

Builds Confidence and Trust
Feeling confident in the purchase is everything. For the 50% of buyers that are purchasing a car without seeing it, the condition report is the best way of knowing what they’re getting. A detailed vehicle condition report boosts confidence and helps the buyer trust the seller more than they would without a report.

Sets Buyer Expectations
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 condition report helps set buyer expectations so that there are no surprises when the vehicle arrives. That means there will be less complaints and arbitration claims to deal with.

Can Increase the Number of Bids and Push Them Higher
Since online auction buyers prefer to see an auto condition report, listings that include them will attract more bids. More bids typically means higher bids.

Attracts More Non-Local Buyers
The people who are most likely to be convinced to bid because of the car condition report are non-local buyers, who are strictly relying on the listing to make their buying decision. Listings that include a wealth of information will be given more serious consideration.

Gives Dealers the Transparency They Need to Make a Buying Decision
Dealers have to weigh the risk of buying a vehicle online against getting a good price. The transparency of an in-depth condition report helps mitigate that risk because the dealer feels like they are making a more informed buying decision.

How to Increase Sales With a Vehicle Condition Report

You know that having a vehicle condition report can both increase your chances of selling, and potentially help fetch a higher price. That said, some car condition reports are better than others. Below are a few tips on how to increase sales with a vehicle condition report.

  • Be as detailed as possible. Cover every part of the vehicle, from the engine to the electrical components to the entertainment system.
  • Be transparent—don’t try to hide or downplay any issues or defects. Address them head on.
  • Add a lot of photos to highlight points from the report.
  • Honesty is always the best policy.
  • Take time to create a solid vehicle summary that entices buyers to keep reading.

When a vehicle condition report is done right it can help you get more listing views, buyers spend more time looking at the listing—meaning your listing’s bounce rate is lower.

What Does a Vehicle Condition Report Cover?

You may have heard about “insane” 150-point vehicle condition reports and be hesitant to take on the task of reporting. Don’t let that big number intimidate you. Most points are simply stating whether or not a component exists, and if so, whether it’s in working condition.

The basic parts of a vehicle condition report include:

Vehicle Description
The condition report will have a description of the vehicle. It can be basic and to the point or written with more of a marketing flair. Either way, the description should provide a good overview of the vehicle.

Added Features and Extras
Tell buyers about all upgrades and extras that aren’t standard.

Missing Parts
It’s also important to be up-front about any missing parts, including accessories unrelated to drivability.

Damage Summary
Include details on any visual body damage and known mechanical damage.

Tire Information
Give a general rundown of the condition of the tires. Even if you don’t know exactly when they were put on, you can describe the tread, and if there’s any wear.

Images
It’s best practice to include an image of every feature and fault that’s mentioned in the report.

Video
A quick one-minute video of the outside and inside of the vehicle is even more impactful than images.

If you aren’t using a software program with a preset condition report form, create a checklist so that your car condition reports are consistent and no points are overlooked. When you work with ACV Auctions you don’t have to worry about missing any points because we create the vehicle condition report for you. It’s an added convenience for sellers and added assurance for buyers.