What can a CarHistory report reveal about a used vehicle?

Where Can I Find the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number)?

The vehicle identification number (VIN) is composed of 17 characters (digits and capital letters) that act as a unique identifier for the vehicle. A VIN displays the car's unique features, specifications and manufacturer.

The VIN can be found in a couple of places including on the car's registration label (1), on the compliance plate in the engine bay (2) or on the passenger side windshield (3), or on one of the door posts (where the door latches when it is closed) (4). See the image below:

Look for the VIN in these other locations:

  • Insurance card/Insurance policy
  • Vehicle title and registration certificate


Thinking about buying a used car in Australia for your next upgrade? Consider how much you can spend, what type of vehicle you're looking for and how to check the history of the vehicle before you buy it. The car you choose could have past issues, like financial liability or a stolen status, so getting a CarHistory report is non-negotiable.

In 2020, Budget Direct reported there were 39,400 passenger/light commercial vehicles stolen in Australia.1 This means one vehicle was stolen every thirteen minutes. Finding out if the used vehicle you want to purchase was one of them is important before committing so that you're not stuck in a problematic situation.

Here is more information about what you should look for when buying a used car.

Checking a vehicle's history before you buy will save you time and money later.Checking a vehicle's history before you buy will save you time and money later.

What is included in a CarHistory report?

Simply by using a rego or VIN a comprehensive CarHistory report provides the following:

  • Vehicle financial liability check.
  • Damages, stolen status and written off check.
  • Odometer check.
  • PPSR Certificate.
  • Vehicle valuation and registration details.
  • Sales price and odometer reading comparison.
  • National view of the vehicle's reported history.
  • Previous sale information.
  • ANCAP safety and emission ratings.

Red flags to watch for

1) Vehicle financial liability

If the previous owner of the used vehicle still had money owing on the car, if you then purchase the car, you become liable for that balance. An encumbered car is one that the previous owner used as security for a loan, according to Finder.2 While this is not always a deal breaker when buying a used car, you should ensure that you take all necessary measures to deal with it.

You can manage the process by first checking the finance status to ensure the seller has paid everything off in full. Because the seller may need your money to pay off the loan, make sure you don't pay until the car is finance free. Make the exchange at the same time they pay off the loan.

2) Inaccurate odometer reading

Dishonest sellers may try to roll back the odometer to make a car look more valuable than it is. With a CarHistory report, you can see the vehicle's odometer reading, provided through its service history, helping you to discover if there is any inaccuracy highlighting a potential odometer windback.3

3) Vehicle has been written off

When a vehicle is written off, it means that repairs to fix the vehicle would have cost more than the vehicle itself is actually worth. This is important to know because it could mean that the used car you want to buy has hidden issues that weren't dealt with properly.

4) Vehicle has been stolen

You don't want to purchase a stolen vehicle. You could lose the vehicle if it's repossessed by the original owner later on, or you may be responsible for covering any funds still owed on the vehicle by the thief you bought the car from.

Make sure you're not driving around a stolen vehicle.Make sure you're not driving a stolen vehicle.

Why you should get a CarHistory report

Getting a full CarHistory report could save you time, money and headaches down the road. If the vehicle has money owing on it or is encumbered, has an inaccurate odometer reading, has been reported written off or stolen you could be in trouble if you buy it without knowing these red flags exist.

For more information, contact us at CarHistory to find out everything you need to know about your vehicle's history.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is general in nature and does not take into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Therefore, you should consider whether the information is appropriate to your circumstance before acting on it, and where appropriate, seek professional advice.

1. Budget Direct, Simply Savvy. Car theft survey & statistics 2021. Accessed February 2022.

2. Finder. How do you buy an encumbered car? Accessed February​ 2022.

3. Finder. Car Service HistoryAccessed February​ 2022.

View a sample report >