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Checking on that used car

Posted by Andrew Chan  June 29, 2009 11:30 AM

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If you are shopping for a used car and want to know more about the vehicle’s history, check out the NMVITS for a report on the vehicle’s title history and current and past condition. The National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVITS) was created provided by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to provide consumers with information about a used vehicle’s condition and history. This resource can provide you with valuable information about a used vehicle before you purchase it and potentially save you a lot of money and aggravation.

The NMVTIS was created to protect consumers from fraudulent activity and from purchasing potentially unsafe or stolen vehicles. The NMVTIS reports include information about a vehicle’s title history, recent odometer reading, current and prior condition (e.g., junk, salvage, flood, etc.) and historical theft history. The information in this system is compiled from various sources including state motor vehicle titling agencies, insurance carriers, auto recyclers, junk yards and salvage businesses.

While this system provides consumers with a good resource, it does have a couple of important limitations that you should keep in mind. First, the type of information provided by this system may differ from those provided by private vehicle history reporting companies. The NMVTIS is designed to serve multiple constituents including law enforcement, state motor vehicle registration agencies, insurance carriers and consumers. It is intended to provide information mainly about a vehicle’s title history and condition as opposed to other information like its repair history. Second, the NMVTIS does not currently collect or report on information from all states in the country. As of last month, 29 states are providing data into the system, 11 states are in the process of participating, and 12 states are not currently providing any information. All states are required to participate and provide data by January 1, 2010.

The NMVTIS does charge a fee for its reports. The law enacted to create the NMVTIS required that the system be funded by user fees as opposed to federal funds. The current price of a report is between $2 dollars and $4 dollars per report. This seems to be a reasonable price to pay for the piece of mind and potential savings you’ll receive.

As a final note, this resource is not intended to provide you with all of the information that you’ll need before purchasing a used car. Rather, it is meant to be an additional tool that you can use as you do your due diligence. For more information about the NMVTIS, visit their web site at

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Local finance professionals share insights and advice on issues such as budgeting, managing debt, and retirement planning.

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D. Abraham Ringer is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER practitioner and a Financial Adviser with Morgan Stanley Global Wealth Management in Boston. He is registered in MA, NH, NY and several other states to which his articles are directed. For more information please visit
Financial Planning Association™ of Massachusetts has 900 members who specialize in the financial planning process. Many of its members engage in philanthropic pro bono work in their communities, recommend legislation, elevate public awareness, promote financial literacy, and advocate for sound economic and tax policies.
Odysseas Papadimitriou is the founder of, a credit card and gift card marketplace, and, a personal finance site. He has more than 13 years of experience in the personal finance industry, and previously served as senior director at Capital One.

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