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Are you buying a used car? Beware. Unlike a brand-new vehicle, pre-owned cars can have a history of accidents or mechanical issues. Unfortunately, some used vehicles may be tampered with in an effort to conceal certain problems. When purchasing a pre-owned vehicle you can lower the chance of buying a car with a hidden history by following these tips.

What to look out for

Cloned Vehicle Identification Numbers
When you’re getting ready to buy a used car, look at its vehicle history report to help ensure the VIN hasn’t been changed. And, while a car’s VIN is typically printed near the base of its windshield on the driver’s side, it may also be stamped near the engine’s firewall or in the driver’s side door jamb. It would be a good idea to verify that all VINs stamped on the car match before you decide to purchase it.

Look for “Washed Titles”
When a car is totaled or has been significantly damaged, it is typically issued a special “washed” title so that car buyers know the history of the vehicle they’re dealing with. To help verify that you are not buying a car with a washed title, be sure to look at the vehicle history report to check for recent title transfers. You may also want to inspect a physical copy of the title to see if it appears to be altered in any way.

If you feel pressured to act quickly when buying a used car, you may want to think twice. Take time to inspect the car and research the vehicle’s history, and consider having it evaluated by a professional—it could save you frustration, time and money down the road.