We all know story about Stephen Hathaway who got go to jail for unknowingly buying stolen bike and. And we are all aware that every year in USA a thousand of vehicles are stolen. Many of those vehicles are disassembled and sold as parts but a large percent just arrives on the market again. Even if you bought stolen vehicle without knowing it was stolen, if it is discovered you will end up without vehicle and your money. That is why you should always carefully check vehicle you want to buy and even the vehicle you already own (if you didn’t get it new at the dealership). Some thieves can hide the fact that the vehicle was stolen really well but there are always many red flags which you should be aware of. Our well-known friend Sam, owner of one of the largest dealerships in the States will help you spot stolen vehicles on time.

VI: Hi Sam, thanks for coming to our office once again! We’re facing a really tough situation – there’s never been more stolen cars on the market. People are getting scammed day by day, some are even serving jail penalties for buying stolen vehicles. How can we prevent that?

Sam: Exactly, it’s problem we have to fight united. On federal level! In fact even at our dealership, people tried to sell us stolen vehicle. Luckily, we managed to spot that, and say no thanks!

First step we like to make is to check the vehicle identification number (VIN). It’s the most basic and the first thing you should look on the vehicle. Every vehicle has its own unique VIN. VIN is made up of 17 characters and you can imagine it as the car’s Social Security Number. Every seller will give you VIN but don’t just accept it – inspect the vehicle and find VIN by yourself. You can mostly find it here – where can I found VIN. Once you find it, you should compere it to the one owner gave you and has on documentation.
Also check if the VIN has been tampered with. It must look as new, without any marks on or around it. It should be securely fastened to the vehicle without any loose corners and it shouldn’t have any kind of scratches, tears or any kind of marks. If it is obscured with a screw or a plug it might mean that the owner tried to hide the VIN. Remember, the label must be without any damage!
Last but not the least, run a VIN report. It’s the safest and bulletproof way of finding out right away everything about the vehicle. If it was stolen, owner reported it to the police, and it’s stated in the report for that car. Piece of cake. Not only that you can check if the vehicle was stolen, you will also see whether the vehicle was salvaged or declared as a total loss by an insurance company. Also, you will be able to see if seller’s information matches the information in the report. For a little of your money you can save yourself from additional expenses and evade bad vehicle.  We get our reports from VIN Insight, because they are the most up to date and most accurate. You can get yours here.

VI: That’s maybe the easiest way to do that. We are able to state stolen status in our report less then one hour after reporting to police or insurance company. However some of the people don’t like buying reports, any advice for them?

Sam: Sure! If you’re not feeling like getting a VIN report you can ask some mechanic to inspect the vehicle. Your mechanic can for sure be able to spot that the VIN has been tampered with. Also, he can check the overall condition of a vehicle so by getting mechanic you will take care of 2 very important things. Also review the car’s service records. The vehicle’s VIN should also appear on service records and you can make sure the VIN on service records matches the VIN on the vehicle. If it doesn’t, then you should walk away. Of course, the owner might fudge service records but you can always check report for it or call the mechanic who repaired vehicle to see if the data is true.

Next thing I would advise everyone to do, no mater if the car is bad or not – demand a bill of sale. If you are buying a vehicle, you must have a document that establishes you bought the vehicle. If the seller doesn’t want to give this to you or he puts false information (always check his ID car to see his name and address), you should walk away.

Also, as I said in some of the last interviews (how to buy good car) – do your research before buying. If you find advertised vehicle which is way cheaper than other same models on the market, you should proceed carefully. That means that the seller wants to sell it fast. In those cases, you should be extremely careful and check everything. However, those risky deals can also save you a lot of money if his story adds up.

I won’t like if you feel discouraged after this. Just have in mind what can happen, apply those advice, read our other interviews, and you’re good to go. Good luck!

VI: Thanks Sam! Once again, a comprehensive review. Hopefully this will save someone a lots of trouble