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Buying a Second-Hand Car in Texas? Here Is How to Check Its Background

Buying a pre-owned vehicle is more practical than splurging on a brand-new one, but can you trust your seller? How can you be sure that their car, motorbike, or trailer has not been stolen, damaged, or involved in accidents? The only way to know for sure is to run a quick online check.

All front and back license plates in Texas are issued by the state DMV. This concerns all types of vehicles, from cars to mopeds. The current identifier format includes seven digits. Car buyers must acquire new plates from their dealer or on their own if they purchase from private sellers.

Buying a Second-Hand Car in Texas? Here Is How to Check Its Background

What a Report Contains

There are services that provide comprehensive Texas license plate lookup at the click of a button. You will learn about all major events and records, from odometer readings to accidents. By checking a license plate with a VIN (see below), you will find out the following:

  • A full list of accidents the vehicle has been involved in
  • Theft and recovery records
  • Odometer readings at different times
  • Taxi or police use
  • Manufacturer recalls and defects
  • Damage from flood, hail, or fire
  • Actual mileage
  • Lien and repossessions
  • Manufacturer recalls and defects
  • Full specs including type and size of the engine

The report may reveal that the car you want to buy is a salvage vehicle, a junk vehicle, or a car from the black market. It may have been stolen or imported into the United States. You could even discover that the car is dangerous to drive!

Why Are License Plate Checks Legal?

As anyone can look up any vehicle online, you may wonder why this service is even legal. There is nothing to worry about as reports do not reveal names of previous owners or other personal information. Such details may only be provided by law enforcement in rare cases.

Alternative: VIN check

A VIN, or vehicle identification number, is a unique identifier assigned to every vehicle manufactured in the United States. Since 1981, all identifiers have followed the same standard introduced by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: 17 letters and numerals with the exception of o, i, and q.

You can decipher a VIN manually, but this is a time-consuming endeavor. An online decoder will provide instant results. This basic report will contain the full specs of the used vehicle. To investigate its past, get a full history report.

Compare VINs on different parts of the car and in all accompanying documents. If you see any discrepancies, the car is bound to have a shady past. This immediately tells you that the seller is unreliable.

To Sum up

Before buying a second-hand vehicle, research its background thoroughly. Online license plate checks and VIN checks are the quickest way to discover the truth about the actual condition and history of a car. A couple of clicks will prevent expensive mistakes!


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