In December of 1997 the United States Congress directed the Attorney General to establish the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS). The act mandates that every state and junk or salvage yard participate in providing information about the vehicle they deal with so that a database can be established to track the vehicle's history and thereby protect consumers. The system is to be financed by user fees and is to provide information about the validity of the title, registration, Vehicle Identification Number, status (used or junked), odometer at the time of registration changes. The system also requires that sellers make that information available to buyers, law enforcement officials and insurance companies upon request. You can read the entire document here.
Anybody who buys an antique, vintage or classic car or truck should purchase a vehicle inspection report beforehand. The cost is minimal compared to the value of the information they provide. There are many companies who provide the reports and the competition has created a variety of extra feature and range in fees. However they are easy to find by searching the Internet for the key words "vehicle inspection reports" so take a few minutes and look at several before deciding. Here is what you can expect to find.
Every vehicle in the NMVTIS has been given a "Brand" to indicate its status, such as "flooded", "salvaged" (severe damage) or "junked" (a total loss) and many states require that insurance companies report accident claims. Unless you know this information you may end up purchasing a vehicle that has simply been dried out after a flood or reconditioned after being purchased from a junk yard, who might have bought it from an insurance company determined it had too much damage to fix properly.
The NMVTIS requires that each state verify the true ownership of a vehicle before issuing a new title or registration. This means that someone who loses their title or registration must prove ownership before getting a new one, which assures the buyer that the seller is authentic. It also means that it is very difficult to get a title for a stolen car, which is why most are stripped and sold for parts.
Turning back an vehicle's odometer to make the buyer believe there has been less use was an easy scam. Back in the days when odometers where mechanical devices fraudulent sellers used to simply hook a reservable drill motor to the speedometer cable and let it run until the desired reading was obtained. Now days it is more difficult but still possible so it is important to have verification of the actual miles. The NMVTIS requires that states actually go out and read the odometer reading when the title is changed and a vehicle inspection report with therefore give you an indication of what the mileage was if that occurred in the past.
Here is some more information about antique, vintage and classic vehicles. You will find information about vehicle inspection services and researching VIN (Vehicle Identification Numbers) numbers in our Business Directory.