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Does That Used Car Have a Secret?

Friday, October 31, 2014   (0 Comments)
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Does That Used Car Have a Secret?

For many Americans, an automobile is the second most valuable asset they own, so making sure a used car doesn’t have any hidden secrets that could negatively impact such a big investment is a wise move.  Researching a vehicle's history through the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS) is the easiest and most affordable way to tap into the vehicle's life story and make sure a potential purchase is a sound one.  By visiting and selecting one of the approved NMVTIS vehicle history report providers, a prospective purchaser can instantly receive information that will help avoid the problems that can befall an uninformed consumer.


Auto Data Direct, Inc., (ADD) was the first approved report provider, and has offered consumer access to the federal vehicle history database since 2009.  “When this program first launched nationally, about 60% of all vehicles in the country could be found in NMVTIS,” said Jim Taylor, ADD president. “Today 96% of the nation’s vehicles have a record that offers title and brand history to the consumer.” Taylor adds that the ease of online access through provider websites and the low cost of the report compared to other private reports has helped the program grow nationally.


NMVTIS is a U.S. Department of Justice program that came about as a result of government efforts to protect consumers from fraud.  The federal database contains state title data, including title "brands," which are descriptive statuses such as "Flood" or "Salvage" applied to a vehicle title.  NMVTIS helps ensure that title brands are carried with a vehicle's title as it moves from state to state.  The program also incorporates a mandatory requirement for the junk, salvage, and insurance industries to report significant events in a vehicle’s life – like being totaled in a wreck, sold in a salvage auction or being rebuilt– that can give the consumer a heads up that a vehicle has a past that may affect its value or safety.

NMVTIS also helps prevent vehicle identity theft, sometimes called VIN cloning, which is a common practice among car thieves.  Criminals take the Vehicle Identification Number from a legitimately-owned car, transfer it to a stolen vehicle of the same make and model, then sell the stolen vehicle, with fraudulent paperwork, to an unwitting buyer.  Running a VIN search through a NMVTIS provider for a prospective used car purchase can help identify discrepancies between the true vehicle title and falsified paperwork presented by the seller- keeping the consumer from purchasing a stolen vehicle and ultimately losing their investment.


“This is all important information for any buyer to consider, in determining the safety and value of a used vehicle.  A NMVTIS vehicle history report, coupled with having the vehicle inspected by a licensed mechanic, are the two key aspects to help consumers make informed used vehicle purchase decisions,” said Vivienne Cameron, Senior Director for the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, (AAMVA), the organization that operates the NMVTIS program for the U.S. Department of Justice.


AAMVA works with all 50 states and the District of Columbia to ensure that NMVTIS is an effective tool in preventing and reducing auto theft and fraud nationwide.  California law now requires used car dealers in that state to provide a buyer with a NMVTIS report prior to closing a sale.  The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles recently launched a Title Check initiative, which includes an engaging, informative video designed to educate consumers about the value of NMVTIS in protecting them from making a bad vehicle purchase.

“Since Texas DMV added the NMVTIS Title Check information to its website, as a provider, we’ve seen a 105% increase in the number of NMVTIS vehicle history reports accessed by Texas consumers,” said Taylor.  “That’s a significant indicator that, as consumers become aware of this valuable tool, they are choosing to use it as an important step in their car-buying process.”

NMVTIS vehicle history reports generally include junk, salvage, and insurance total loss information, a vehicle's current and previous states of title, the dates titles were issued, odometer readings recorded at title issuance, along with current and previous title brands and the dates the brands were applied.   For more information on NMVTIS, or to access a consumer vehicle history report, visit or