Glossary of Used Car Terms

Knowing all of the terms you’ll hear during the car buying process can really help you make an informed decision. Take a look at the following terms and learn the basics.

Understanding Car Terminology: A Glossary of Common Words

Any vehicle, trailer or semi-trailer of a type subject to registration, whether lost, stolen, abandoned or having been deserted or left.

The odometer reading is believed to be the true and actual mileage of the lot

Reported accidents or damage events are a result of vehicle collisions or other non-collision incidents such as vandalism or theft. Not all accidents or damage events are reported to Vehicle History Providers

The vehicle has been reported as being assembled by a non-manufacturer. The vehicle may have been adjusted or built from a kit.

VERIFYITHQ  takes ten digital images of each vehicle processed for sale. Images are stored in JPEG format

A wholesale Auto Auction has reported that the odometer is not functioning properly or no longer accurately records the distance that the car has traveled.

The AutoCheck Score is a rating that allows you to quickly and easily evaluate all of the vehicle’s history data in one convenient score. The AutoCheck Score Range allows you to compare your specific vehicle’s AutoCheck Score against similar age and class vehicles to see how it measures up.


A wholesale Auto Auction has reported that the actual mileage/kilometers is greater than the odometer allows to be recorded. This commonly occurs with vehicles that have five-digit odometers that have exceeded 99,999 miles.

A wholesale Auto Auction has reported that the manufacturer repurchased the vehicle or the vehicle may have ongoing mechanical or drivability problems

Body Style is the manufacturer’s designation of the vehicle’s configuration

It is the name of the vehicle’s manufacturing company or make of the vehicle e.g. Maruti Suzuki, Honda, Tata etc.

A document issued by a state showing ownership of an automobile.

Chassis number or VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) is the unique code given to the vehicle based on various parameters like country of manufacturing, manufacturer, etc.

A type of ‘ringing’, cloning takes the identity of a legitimate vehicle that is the same make and model as the stolen one by forging its vehicle identification number (VIN) and vehicle registration mark (VRM). This means there will be two or more cars on the road with the same identity. Like ringers, clones can be hard to spot, but take a close look at all the VINs, just in case

State agencies such as Departments of Motor Vehicles and Bureaus of Motor Vehicles. They typically issue vehicle titles and registrations, and handle individual driver’s licenses

The true mileage of the lot cannot be expressed because it has exceeded the capacity of the odometer to measure it

Vehicle is generally exempt from normal/mandatory odometer law for the following reasons:

  1. Vehicle model year is 10 years or older
  2. Gross weight of vehicle over 16000 lbs
  3. Vehicle is not self-propelled
  4. Titled to the manufacturer

By Federal Law, no odometer code is required to be displayed for this lot.



The serial number of the engine of the vehicle

An exported vehicle is one that has been exported from one country and imported into another country

The vehicle failed to pass the state emission inspection

The vehicle failed to pass the state emission inspection

The vehicle failed to pass a state safety inspection.

The vehicle failed to pass a state safety inspection



Vehicle History Providers  receives information on vehicle fires from most U.S. jurisdictions. These events are taken from the actual fire department reports compiled at the scene

States issue flood titles when a vehicle has been in a flood or has received extensive water damage.


It is the fuel on which the vehicle runs, e.g. Petrol, CNG etc

An older term used for any vehicle that is imported into the U.S. that was not originally manufactured for the U.S. market

The vehicle was damaged by hail 

The vehicle’s parts have been salvaged for reuse and the remainder of the vehicle has been destroyed or scrapped. This vehicle has been declared a total loss, is not road worthy and should not be titled again for use on the road.


This is a certificate issued in the United States on a vehicle that was damaged to the extent that the cost of repairing the vehicle exceeded 75% of its pre-damage value, although this damage threshold may vary by individual state. Most states use this title to indicate that a vehicle is not roadworthy and cannot be titled again.

If after a reasonable amount of attempts the authorized dealer is unable to conform a new vehicle to any of its applicable express warranties, the manufacturer shall either provide its customer with a new vehicle of a like model line, if available, or otherwise comparable vehicle as a replacement, or accept the return of the vehicle from its customer and refund to its customer the purchase price paid for the vehicle less a reasonable allowance for use of the vehicle. Lemon laws vary in the states that have enacted them. Lemon laws may not exist in all states

A vehicle in the U.S. with major problems that has been repurchased by or had its price renegotiated with the manufacturer. The state marks its official records or issues a title brand for lemon law vehicles. Laws vary by state as to the specific requirements for a “lemon”. Most manufacturers issue some buybacks that are not the result of Lemon Laws but rather a courtesy.

When a person leases a car from a dealer, the dealer very often sells the car to a leasing company. A leasing company can be an independent leasing company or part of a car manufacturer. The leasing company then leases the vehicle to the individual or to a company.

After the end of the lease period, the person who has leased the vehicle often has the option to purchase it. If they choose not to buy the car, the leasing company is free to sell the car to another private individual or commercial dealer or person. Leased cars are not necessarily worse than vehicles privately owned, but it is always important to be aware of a vehicle’s history.

A lien is money owed against a vehicle. If a lien is properly filed, it may be enforceable against subsequent parties who take an ownership interest in the vehicle

Make is the manufacturer’s brand name.


The manufacturer has repurchased the vehicle.

There has been an error in a current or previous odometer reading.

A mileage inconsistency occurs when there is a more recent odometer reading that has less mileage than an older odometer reading. This discrepancy could be the result of a rollback or a clerical error. The mileage should be verified by an inspection from a qualified mechanic.

Model is the manufacturer’s designation of the lot

The odometer reading does not correctly reflect the mileage of the lot or it cannot be known.

A recall is considered “open” for a vehicle when it has not received the required service to correct the safety concern. The vehicle will need to be taken to a repair center that has been authorized by the manufacturer to correct any open recall conditions. To see if you have an open recall, Click Here

Odometer descriptions reflect the known reliability of the odometer reading. There are four odometer types:


The vehicle was a salvaged vehicle that was refurbished with new or used parts. An affidavit of repair from the rebuilder or individual making the repairs, stating what repairs were made to the vehicle and that the vehicle is now rebuilt and road operable, may be required to obtain a rebuilt/rebuildable title. These vehicles must also pass a state safety inspection before being allowed back on the road

It is the unique number on which a vehicle is registered

A safety recall can be independently conducted by a manufacturer or ordered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In either case, the manufacturer must file a public report containing a description of the issue, the vehicles involved, and other information including a description of the solution. The manufacturer is obligated to provide a free remedy for vehicles involved in a safety recall.

Check  here if you have an open recall

An auction has reported the vehicle as a salvaged vehicle. The extent of damage is unknown, and the vehicle may or may not be severely damaged

This is a certificate issued in the United States on a vehicle that was damaged to the extent that the cost of repairing the vehicle exceeded 75% of its pre-damage value, although this damage threshold may vary by individual state. Most states use this title to indicate that a vehicle is not roadworthy and cannot be titled in that state again, and may result in the vehicle being scrapped. The following eleven states also use Salvage titles to identify stolen vehicles – AZ, FL, GA, IL, MD, MN, NJ, NM, NY, OK and OR.

The vehicle was previously reported as stolen and has been recovered

Title Type denotes the ownership documents that will be transferred to the Member. Each state issues a wide variety of different ownership documents. Each type of document carries with it certain ownership rights and certain restrictions or burdens. Members should research the viability of each type of title document for their intended use of the lot prior to bidding


The vehicle had a title event reported by the state DMV

The cost of repairing such vehicles plus projected supplements plus projected diminished resale value plus rental reimbursement expense exceeds the cost of buying the damaged motor vehicle at its pre-accident value, minus the proceeds of selling the damaged motor vehicle for salvage.


Unknown Odometer Reading

The odometer reading on the vehicle is unknown.

The vehicle is not repairable.

Vehicle has been reported as vandalized.



 The Vehicle Age defines how old is the vehicle from the current date

Vehicle Identification Number; a unique number given to each motor vehicle for identification purposes

Title issued to an insurance company due to payment of a claim for flood damage sustained. If issued to a licensed rebuilder, who possesses or acquires a vehicle that is designated as, or for which evidence or information of a “flood vehicle” has been provided, the vehicle is considered a salvage vehicle and designated on an Application for Salvage Certificate in an insurance company or licensee’s name

Year is the manufacturer’s designated model year