Everything You Need to Know About REVS checks, Car History and PPSR reports
- Feb 10, 2018
REVS checks and PPSR reports are essential aspects of buying a second-hand car in Australia. They’re also referred to as VIN checks. But unfortunately, too many people have never even heard of them. This page is designed to tell you everything you need to know about these vital steps used in the car buying process; what they are, why they’re important, and how to get them done.
What are REVS CHECKS?
A REVS check is actually an obsolete check people used to do when buying a used car. It was a free check that allowed a prospective buyer to see if there was a financial encumbrance attached to the vehicle.
Over the last few years, the REVS check has been replaced by the PPSR report. This is a much more detailed document that gives you greater insight into the vehicle’s history. For this reason, the PPSR report is also known as a “car history report”.
Since REVS checks are still what many people search for — and because what they contain is still relevant — we’ll go over them in a little more detail. Just remember that the free REVS checks of the past aren’t actually available anymore.
What Does REVS Mean?
REVS is the abbreviation for Register of Encumbered Vehicles. It is a government database that records information on vehicles including whether they have a financial encumbrance attached to them. A REVS check, and the resulting report, basically shows you whether or not there is an outstanding loan or payments attached to the vehicle you are interested in.
If you’re wondering what an encumbrance is, here’s a simple description. Encumbrance means that money is still outstanding on the vehicle and hasn’t yet been paid off. These debts could have come about because a loan was taken out to buy the car or the car was used as collateral in a loan application.
It’s important to note that the vehicle itself must be tied to the money in some way, either as collateral for the loan, or the subject of the loan. A car that’s purchased with money taken from a home mortgage, for example, isn’t encumbered — in that case, the house is the collateral, not the vehicle.
PPSR Reports have replaced REVS Checks since 2012. Rather than tell you just one thing — whether the vehicle is financially encumbered or not — they give you a comprehensive look into all of the registered details of a vehicle.
PPSR stands for Personal Property Securities Register. Rather than an official registry of information, it’s intended to be an online notice board administered by the Australian Financial Security Authority (AFSA) where information about secured properties such as vehicles can be found.
Some of the information itself is drawn from NEVDIS. NEVDIS is the National Exchange of Vehicle and Driver Information System. This is the government body that actually registers the relevant information with regards to vehicles and other “Secured” properties; who owns them, who has money attached to them, stolen and write-off status, etc.
Even then, the information registered to NEVDIS is actually supplied by state and territory road agencies, who form the primary point of contact for enquiries, errors, and corrections.
When you get a PPSR Report, you get all of the information the PPSR has available that it’s able to draw from NEVDIS and other sources.
PPSR reports are very comprehensive reviews of the history of a vehicle. Where REV checks will only tell you if a vehicle has a financial encumbrance attached, PPSR reports will give you information on:
• Financial encumbrances.
• Any write-off status associated with the vehicle. The vehicle may have been listed as a Repairable Write-Off or a Total Write-Off at some point in the past. The PPSR will inform you of this.
• Whether the vehicle has ever been listed as stolen.
• Engine number associated with the VIN
• Odometer discrepancy
Why Are These Checks Important?
PPSR reports allow you to make informed decisions about a vehicle you’re considering purchasing. If a vehicle has a financial encumbrance, you may wish to avoid purchasing that vehicle.
Likewise, you don’t want to buy a vehicle that’s stolen or is actually unsafe to drive. PPSR reports can give you this information even when the seller is reluctant to give it to you.
The information contained within a PPSR report can also tell you if a car has been stolen even if it’s not reported. Chassis and engine numbers contained in the PPSR report can be checked off against the parts of the vehicle to ensure all of the original, genuine parts are in place.
When Should You Get a PPSR Report?
You need to order a PPSR Report when considering a used vehicle from a private seller.
Dealerships and auction houses are required by law to provide complete car histories. They’re also covered under much more stringent consumer laws than private sellers, so they have more motivation to provide accurate information.
No. There’s no law stating that you need to get a PPSR report before purchasing a used vehicle. However, it’s better to get one than not — and at only $5.99, it’s too cheap to pass up given the headaches you could face if you buy a lemon or a car with financing outstanding.
How do I get a car history report/PPSR report?
To request a PPSR report on a particular vehicle, you will need the VIN number. The VIN is a unique 17-digit identification number that is found on every car, boat, and motorcycle made after the 1980s. The VIN is required for a variety of legal purposes such as registration, insurance, and ownership.
Prior to the late 1980s, VINs were not standardized to today’s 17-digit code. For this reason, cars made before the 1980s may not be searchable through the PPSR.
Can I Buy An Encumbered Vehicle?
Yes. Even though the seller does not technically “own” the vehicle while there’s a financial encumbrance attached, you may still purchase the vehicle and assume the title on it.
If the encumbrance is not paid off and removed from the registration for the vehicle, that new used-car you bought can be repossessed by the financial institution which owns the encumbrance. This is generally a bank that has loaned the seller the money to either to have bought the car in the first place, or by using the car as collateral.
What this means is that if the previous owner defaults on their payments, the financial institution can still take the car even if it’s currently in your possession.
Ready for a PPSR Search?
Now that you know all the basics about REVS checks, how it became PPSR, and the importance of a PPSR report when buying a used car, make sure to take advantage of the lowest fees on the market for PPSR checks. You may never know how much that $5.99 could save you in the future.