CARFAX Europe Glossary - Explanation of Terminology Used

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Chassis modified or replaced

There are many things that can happen to a vehicle over the course of its lifetime. As the old saying goes: “Accidents happen.” And when an accident occurs, there can be severe repercussions to the standing condition of the vehicle’s structure. Dents and scratches mat be easy fixed, but when a vehicle has structural damage, it can mean serious damage. One example of structural damage includes damage to the frame or chassis of the vehicle. If the accident occurred with a high level or impact force, the frame/chassis can bend or buckle in certain areas.

New Owner Reported

A new owner is reported when each transfer of ownership is documented with the official governmental agency in each of the states in the U.S. This change in ownership is often called a title transfer. The vehicles are identified using the unique 17-character Vehicle Identification Number.  Because every state agency in the U.S. reports this information to CARFAX, each time a new owner is reported, it is included on the CARFAX Vehicle History Report of the used car bought or sold.

Odometer reading

Mileage is one of the key factors when determining the “age” of a vehicle. A vehicle which was built only a few years ago, but has an extraordinarily high mileage, also carries a higher age. This is because mileage can generally add strain and stress to the vehicle’s engine.

Ownership History

One of the aspects of a vehicle’s history is the number of people who have owned it over its lifetime. This piece of information is often relevant to used car shoppers in determining the value of a vehicle. There are many who prefer to buy 1-owner vehicles, because they are often thought of as the best maintained vehicles on the market. While there are always exceptions to the rule, used car shoppers searching for 1-owner cars can generally have a little more ease of mind knowing only one other person has owned the vehicle.

VIN Number (Vehicle Identification Number)

The vehicle identification number, also called VIN, or VIN number, is a unique coded serial number that is used to identify any vehicle in the automotive industry. The number can be seen as the fingerprint of the vehicle, as there is no other vehicle on the road with the same VIN number. By some decoding services and barcode scanners, consumers and official agencies are able to decode the VIN in whole or part and so obtain more information about the car. Service shops for example, use the VIN to identify the engine, transmission and brake systems, so that they can be properly maintained.

Vehicle Year

The vehicle year is one of the first points many used car shoppers look at when doing research to buy a car. Vehicle year is defined by a local Road Administration and indicates the age of the vehicle. Note, however, that the vehicle year and model year might not coincide. This might be due to different times of production and registration.

Vehicle Age

When shopping for a used car, one of the first things many people do is look at how old the car is. Understanding how to best define vehicle age can help used car shoppers make better purchase decisions.

Total Loss Vehicle

A vehicle is considered a total loss by an insurance company or a fleet company if it was damaged in such a severe manner that the cost of repairing it is not considered economically worthwhile.  The exact amount of damage required to declare a vehicle a total loss can vary. In many cases, the rule is that if the cost to repair or the loss in value exceeds 75% of its pre-damage value, it is declared a total loss. Different states have different damage thresholds. An insurance or fleet company may also declare a car that is stolen and not recovered a total loss.

Taxi Vehicle

There are hundreds of thousands of taxis and other livery vehicles on the roads in Europe. What this means for used car shoppers is that the chances of coming across one in your search for a vehicle is relatively high. Since the vehicles themselves are the essential element of a taxi driver’s business, along with the tax deductions they receive for business expenses, they often upgrade to newer cars whenever they can. This allows the taxi driver to provide the most comfortable experience for their passengers. What this also means is that the older vehicles are often sold.

Stolen Vehicle

Vehicle theft is an unfortunate, but common problem around the globe. Often times, these vehicles find their ways into different countries, where thieves believe it’s easier to mask the fact that the vehicle was stolen. Stolen vehicles from America are even found driving on European roads. In fact, this trend seems to be rising over the last several years. Regardless of where a vehicle has been stolen, be it from within or outside of Europe, the risk of buying one exists. The potential of legal problems for the buyer is one major reason to avoid buying a stolen vehicle.