When purchasing a vehicle, check the vehicle's title for any "remarks" that will denote discrepancies such as:
True miles unknown
Exceeds mechanical limitations
Out of state title
Remarks such as these above are causes for alarm. Also, be aware of the limitations of a CARFAX or any vehicle title report. A CARFAX report may not tell you if the vehicle has a clean title.
A vehicle with a "Recondition" or Salvage" title has been rebuilt from the junk yard. These vehicles have been declared a total loss by their insurance companies. These vehicles should be sold to salvage yards for parts.
Other remarks such on a title such as Flood, Theft recovery, Stolen, True miles unknown, Exceeds mechanical limitations, or Out of state titles can be types of "Reconditioned" or Salvage" vehicles. While these cars with these titles may look good, they may be structurally and/or mechanically unsound and worth only a fraction of book value.
BEWARE, some totaled vehicles were never given a "Recondition" or "Salvage" title. Since the title was never changed to "Recondition" or Salvage", body shops and unethical dealers will buy these totaled vehicles and cosmetically repair the damage. These vehicles are then sold to auctions or to the general public with a clean title.
CAUTION: Titles which contain the above discrepancies can be "washed" or "cleaned" by simply transferring the title to another state that does not include discrepancies on the title. A professional inspection will detect these discrepancies even if the title has been "cleaned."
NOTE: Since 1981, the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) has 17 alpha numerical characters. (The letters "I", "O", and "Q" never appear in a VIN.)