Buying a used car from Facebook Marketplace is always an iffy proposition.
There are many good sellers, but I think the bad sellers outnumber good sellers by a wide margin.
The vehicle supply chain is slowly stabilizing but the used cars still cost a lot of money than what it was prior to COVID 19 pandemic which attracts unsavory characters. This is doubly true after a flood (also referred to as “flood cars”).
Cars with savage or rebuilt titles can offer tremendous value, but only if you know the seller.
For people who need to purchase a used car, the last thing is getting trapped in a money pit car.
So I am going to share a real, genuine, no bull***t info on how to check if a car has a salvage or rebuilt title for free.
In order to see if a particular car has a salvage or rebuilt title, you need ONE of the following:
- Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
- License plate + State
I have been looking for an older Subaru Outback (something around 2015-2019 models) and saw this 2018 Subaru Outback 2.5i Premium Wagon listing on Facebook Marketplace.
It looks very clean but notice how the seller did not state the VIN or said anything about a salvage or rebuilt title in the description?
So, other than asking the seller, is there a way to obtain the VIN and check for yourself if this particular 2018 Subaru Outback has a salvage/rebuilt title for free?
A round about way of obtaining the VIN is possible if you have the license plate number.
In our case, we can clearly make out the plate number and the state.
Head over to carvana.com and plug in the plate and state and voila, it gives you the VIN!
Armed with the VIN, head on over to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB.org/vincheck) and enter the VIN.
NICB states that the vehicle was classified as a total loss with the salvage title. We cannot tell if this car was a flood car or had collision repair done.
If the vehicle did not have a salvage title, I think this car (with low mileage) can fetch thousands of dollars more than what the seller is asking for.
Of course, not knowing the seller, I cannot tell for sure if this is a good value or not. But being informed is the first step to avoid making mistakes.
You can also use Auto Check and Carfax to check for more detailed information but both cost about 50 bucks. There are numerous “free VIN check” sites but in most cases, they just try reselling AutoCheck or Carfax information.
Buying a vehicle with a salvage or rebuilt title can be a good value but there are simply too many unknown factors so I prefer to buy a car with a clean title.
If you decide to buy a such car, you may want to bring it to your trusted mechanic for their opinion.