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Title Check Site Helps Used Car Buyers Avoid Problems

Bob Barrett

If you’re shopping for a used car or truck, there’s a new tool that could help steer you away from a lemon. "This partnership allows us to inform the customer first" said Scott Lunsford, the Escambia County Tax Collector, talking about a partnership between the Florida Tax Collector Association’s Service Corporation and a company called Auto Data Direct, to make title information available to consumers who are looking for a used vehicle. "It's information that's gathered by the federal government in the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System. They track current and previous state of title, the title issue date, the odometer reading, theft history, flood history, any kind of salvage history, total losses." 

Using this site, you can get information on any vehicle being offered for sale. "You see them on Craig's List and those kind of places, you can actually take the VIN number, go into the Title Check (site) and for $5.95 you can see if the vehicle you (are looking at) has a history, compare the mileage that's known by the government to what's on the car and those kind of things, to make sure you are making an informed decision before you turn your money over to the seller."

Lunsford say that $5.95 price tag gives you access to all the information the federal government has collected on that single vehicle. "You learn a lot about the car quickly and easily. You can do it on your smart phone standing in the driveway of wherever you're looking at the car."

Although many vendors offer similar information, the association decided on Auto Data Direct because it is a local company, operating out of Tallahassee. Lunsford says that one of the big problems he has had to deal with is cars being put back on the market after experiencing flood damage. "As you know, back in (2014) we had the flood here, and there's a lot of cars that are in the market that have these salvage histories." He also pointed out that many flooded out vehicles came back on the market after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma last year, as well as from Hurricane Katrina a decade ago. 

You can access the information at Escambia Tax Collector dot com and look for the title check link. 

Bob Barrett has been a radio broadcaster since the mid 1970s and has worked at stations from northern New York to south Florida and, oddly, has been able to make a living that way. He began work in public radio in 2001. Over the years he has produced nationally syndicated programs such as The Environment Show and The Health Show for Northeast Public Radio's National Productions.