Automobile Search Reports and Vehicle History Records


Private investigators are often hired by private citizens to conduct investigations related to vehicles. Vehicles may be involved for a number of different reasons, such as: repossession due to a defaulted loan, stolen cars, car collectors, and many other reasons. Private detectives should be knowledgeable in using information service providers to run vehicle search reports for their clients.

Following are examples of the various types of automobile / vehicle-related reports that investigators should know how to produce for their clients:

AutoCheck Vehicle History Report

AutoCheck (check CJ) provides a report that allows you to search by the vehicle identification number (VIN) or by the license plate number to find the car you wish to research. Once you subscribe, the vehicle history can be viewed.

Records of Damage

  • The report provides a description of any accidents or damage events that occurred as a result of car accidents, vandalism or theft. It is important to note that drivers don’t always report damage or theft that occurs on their vehicle. This portion of the report only provides information on what was officially reported.
  • The report shows if the vehicle was reported as a “lemon”, assuming the state has lemon laws.
  • Any odometer inconsistencies are reported, which may indicate that the mileage was rolled back or tampered with in some way.
  • Includes any reports of water damages, which may have occurred during a flood or major weather event such as a tornado, tropical storm or hurricane.
  • Certified Pre-owned Vehicle – This vehicle has been inspected, needed repairs have been made and the car has been backed by a factory warranty. The vehicle has gone through a multipoint inspection or series of repairs.
  • Structural Damage – All levels of accidents from minor to sever can cause structural damage to a vehicle. (ex: damage to the frame or unibody).
  • Salvage Title Brand – A salvage vehicle is a vehicle that has been wrecked or damaged beyond repair; declared a total loss by the insurer; or declared a total loss by reason of theft. When an insurance company as a result of a total loss settlement acquires a vehicle, the insurance company must apply for a Salvage Certificate. If the owner retains possession of a salvage vehicle, the owner must obtain a Salvage Certificate before receiving a total loss statement from the insurance company.
  • Police Use – Reports as to whether the vehicle is or was used by a police agency.
  • Taxi/Fleet/Rental Use – This vehicle is or was used as a taxi or rental car, is or was used as a lease.
  • Theft & Theft Recovery – The vehicle was stolen from its legal owner and/or the vehicle was previously reported as stolen and has been recovered.

CarFax Reports

CARFAX Reports contain important information that can help you make a more informed decision about a used car, truck or SUV, including: Vehicle Registration, Frame/structural damage, Salvaged, Junked or Flood titles, Accident indicators, Odometer readings, Service and repair information, Lemon history, Vehicle usage (taxi, rental, lease, etc.), Total loss accident history, Recall information and more.

Driver History Checks

Private Investigators are also called upon to investigate the background of a driver, such as their driving history, whether or not they have a valid license, etc. For more information, see our Background Checks page. Also see our List of DMV offices.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here