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Checking the VIN Will Help You Assess The Value of a Second Hand Car

When you’re buying a second hand car, the price is one of the key elements you will compare in the first place. While the price depends on a number of factors, you can find out about most of them by checking the VIN number.

What does the price of a second-hand car depend on?

A second-hand car in an acceptable condition that is safe to drive can be bought for as little as 2 to 3,000 PLN. If so, what is it that makes some vehicles more expensive than others?

The Value of a Second Hand Car

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The price mainly depends on the make, model and manufacturing year of the vehicle; older cars will obviously be worth less than the newer ones. It is always a good idea to check both the manufacturing year and date of first registration of the vehicle as you may find out that there is a gap between them, e.g. when the car was bought on sale in the beginning of the year following its manufacturing year.

  • The car and body type. The price will be different for passenger, off-road and light commercial vehicles, of course, but you can’t expect a passenger sedan and station wagon to cost the same, either.
  • Engine displacement and horsepower.
  • The number of doors: the same model may come at two different prices depending on whether it has 3 or 5 doors.
  • Fuel type: every buyer of a second-hand car will want to know if it’s a petrol, diesel or LPG car. In the case of LPG, the price may also depend on whether the installation was there from the very beginning and what the expiry date of the LPG tank is.
  • Equipment: even if two different vehicles share the same make, model and manufacturing year, significant differences in what they’re equipped with will make their prices different, too. The car is generally worth more if it has such accessories as heated seats, aircon, an audio system, electrical mirrors, heated mirrors, windows or seats, air bags (their placement and number), parking sensors and the like.
  • Mileage: it is one of the factors the buyer will pay attention to in the first place, right after checking the make, model and manufacturing year. The higher the mileage, the less the car is worth.
  • Overall condition of the car: there can be no doubts here; the less scratches the car has and the less worn it looks, the more it is worth.

Checking the VIN can help you assess the value of a car.

The factors we’ve listed are important for the assessment of a car’s worth but they are not all you should know about in order to make an informed decision. What they have in common is that you can see them yourself and if not, you can check them in the documentation (you will always find the engine displacement and date of first registration in there). The value of a second-hand car also depends on factors which you will not be able to verify on your own, though; this is why it is so important to perform a VIN check. When checking the car, ask the seller for the VIN number (also called the body number); you will then be able to check it using a database such as autoDNA.com. A VIN check will inform you of factors which may make it possible for you to negotiate the price of the car, such as:

  • The number of previous owners: the more owners the car had, the greater the risk that its technical condition may be far from ideal (after all, every driver has their own habits), which means the price should be lower than offered.
  • Information on accidents, collisions and crashes: if the seller failed to inform you of any accidents, the VIN check will help you find out about them.
  • Previous use of the car: if the car was used as a taxi or a light commercial vehicle in a small company, or it was driven by a sales agent and leased, you can be sure you shouldn’t be paying as much as the seller would like to be paid.

Checking the VIN will also tell you what the previous recorded mileage was (which will help you make sure the car isn’t clocked) and if no theft was reported. The VIN report will also list the original equipment the car was fitted with so you can check if anything is missing.

Checking the VIN before purchase only takes a few minutes and a few PLN but the knowledge you gain makes it possible for you to save a lot when buying the car. Depending on the condition of the car, you may save up to a few thousand PLN!



Sam Gatt is a lover of cars and also motor racing. He has owned a kart for a number of years and competes at a national level. He is also a tech geek and lover of the great outdoors.


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