Everything You Need to Know About REVS checks, Car History and PPSR reports

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REVS checks and PPSR reports are important parts of buying a used car in Australia, but many people have never even heard of them. They’re also referred to as VIN checks. This page is designed to tell you everything you need to know about these vital steps in the used car buying process; what they are, why they’re important, and how to get them done.


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 (see below) 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Over the last few years the REVS check has been replaced by the PPSR report.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 it’s also known as a “car history report”.

Since REVS checks are still what many people search for — and because what they contained 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 any more.

What Does REVS Mean?

REVS stands for Register of Encumbered Vehicles. It’s a government system responsible for recording vehicles that have a financial encumbrance attached to them (See below for definition.) It basically tells you whether or not a vehicle is attached to a loan or has outstanding payments on it.

What Is “Encumbrance”?

When it comes to finances, an encumbrance simply means that there is some outstanding money associated with the item.

For vehicles, this typically takes one of two forms:

   The car was used as collateral for a loan that hasn’t been paid off.

   A loan was taken out to pay for the car that hasn’t been paid off.

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

PPSR Reports have replaced REVS Checks over the last decade. 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.

What is the PPSR?

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.

The information itself is actually 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.

What Is A PPSR Report?

When you get a PPSR Report, you get all of the information the PPSR has available that it’s able to draw from NEVDIS.

PPSR reports are very comprehensive looks into 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 some time in the past. The PPSR will inform you.

   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.

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 on the vehicle to ensure all of the original, genuine parts are in place.

When Should I 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.

Do I NEED A PPSR Report?

No. There’s no law stating that you need to get a PPSR report prior to 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.

General FAQ

How do I get a car history report/PPSR report?

You’ll need the vehicle’s VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) to get the PPSR report. Every car, boat, and motorcycle has a unique 17-digit VIN associated with it for identification a variety of legal purposes such as registration, insurance and ownership.

Prior to the late 1980s, VINs were not standardised to today’s 17-digit code. For this reason, cars made prior to 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.

What’s the Risk of Buying an Encumbered Vehicle?

Until the encumbrance is paid off and removed from the vehicle, it can be repossessed by the financial institution in charge of the encumbrance. Typically this will be a bank that’s loaned someone the money, either with the car as collateral, or to purchase the car to begin with.

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.

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