How to Tell if a Car is Stolen?

Are in the market for a used car? If you are, and especially if you are planning to purchase your vehicle from a private seller, then you need to check whether it’s stolen or not.

Checking with the National Insurance Crime Bureau

Of course, there is no way to definitively tell whether a car is stolen or not just by looking at it. Fortunately, you do not necessarily have to sell out a lot of money for a vehicle history report. The insurance companies around the country have gotten together and created a database of vehicles that have been stolen, but not recovered. If you go to the National Insurance Crime Bureau website (, you can enter the VIN of any vehicle for a free report. BE SURE TO READ THE TERMS OF SERVICE CAREFULLY. The site also allows you to see if the vehicle has ever had a salvage title. The site says that:

”NICB’s VINCheck is a service provided to the public to assist in determining if a vehicle has been reported as stolen, but not recovered, or has been reported as a salvage vehicle by cooperating NICB members.”

That statement reveals the one weakness of the site… its database only includes titles reported by cooperating members. While that is only a slight weakness, it still leaves the possibility that a few vehicles may slip through the cracks. Another reliable site is’s stolen car search. This is not a government affiliated site, but it has been around for a long time and there is a lot of good information available for free.

Red Flags That May Indicate a Stolen Vehicle

While there is no way to tell if a car is stolen just by looking at it, there are a few signs that should tip you off that there is something fishy about a car, though.

  • The VIN is altered or disguised in any way.
  • The VIN does not match the title.
  • The title has been lost.
  • The price is absurdly low.
  • The seller only accepts cash, but is not willing to let you seek financing.
  • The seller is nervous at all times and seems in a great hurry to sell.
  • The seller is not willing to accompany you to a notary public to transfer the title.

Any of these should raise a flag for you. You may have the “fever” for the car you’re considering, but you have to keep your wits about you and be prudent, especially in this era of Craigslist scams. It may turn out to be a false negative, but you have to be sure before spending your hard-earned cash.


Do Hands-Free Devices Make Driving Safer?

In an age where cell phones cause many wrecks everyday, people are starting to use hands-free devices as safe alternatives. Are they really any safer though? Studies have shown that many people who drive and talk on hands-free devices are still more likely to wreck their vehicles or cause another person to get into a wreck.

25% of Hands-Free Speakers Fail Field Sobriety Test

For a person to drive totally safe, their full attention needs to be focused on the road as they drive. Recently, users of hands free devices were asked to perform in a field sobriety test by researchers at Touro University in Vallejo, California. Some users wore a bluetooth and talked, while others just wore the device. For the users who were talking, nearly one fourth failed the test. These results reinforce the view that people should not talk and drive, whether they are using a hands free device or not. Addition information is needed on the issue before laws can be enacted, but hopefully this problem will be taken care of in the future.

Read the full article here:

Just How Revolutionary is the New Toyota Hydrogen Car?

Some are saying that Toyota’s FCV (Fuel Cell Vehicle) Concept car is the automobile that will change the world when it hits dealership floors in two more years. This buzz is due to from where it gets its power:  a hydrogen fuel cell.  Specifically, a pair of 70 MPa high-pressure hydrogen tanks.

Being powered by a hydrogen fuel cell means that the electric car will not need a heavy, potentially dangerous, and ever costly battery pack, because it will use hydrogen to generate electricity. If it works, this new technology will indeed be revolutionary since a hydrogen fuel cell system’s emissions are only water vapor. The water vapor is created when the energy within the hydrogen oxidizes it to make electricity. Hydrogen is made from natural gas, a resource that is both abundant and cheap.

Additionally, and unlike a pure EV’s like the Nissan Leaf, range anxiety should not be an issue.  Toyota is claiming it will have a range of 300 miles.  Of course, you’ll have to pay a pretty penny for this piece of automotive futurism: $50,000 to $100,000. That sounds like a lot, but it puts it right in competition with the Tesla Model S, which has been outselling all other cars among America’s wealthiest citizens.

Are Fuel Cells “Fool” Cells?

There are big skeptics, however. Perhaps the most vocal has been Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who has stated:

“Fuel cells should be renamed ‘fool cells,’ they are so stupid.  You could take best case of a fuel cell, theoretically the best case, and it does not compete with lithium-ion cells today. And lithium-ion cells are far from their optimum”

Mr. Musk certainly knows his science, captaining our nation’s first successful new automaker in decades, but as this Bloomberg article points out, Toyota’s 1997 decision to produce the world’s first mass-market hybrid was written off as foolish endeavor by many. Of course, Toyota showed the critics by selling nearly 4 million Priuses.

South Leading the Way in Auto Industry Recovery

It appears that the southern region of the country has been leading the nation when it comes to owing money on their cars and trucks. Eight out of the top ten metropolitan areas with the most auto loan debt per household are in the southern portion of the United States. According to a recent study conducted by, Shreveport Louisiana was found to have, on average, $18,603 in auto debt per household. Shreveport is in good company:  New Orleans (LA), Houston (TX), Little Rock-Pinebuff (AR), San Antonio (TX), Lafayette (LA), New York (NY), Miami-Ft. Lauderdale (FL), Las Vegas (NV), and Wilkes Barre-Scranton (PA) have rounded out the top ten cities. With such a large number of cities in the Heart of Dixie accumulating auto debt, the south has taken the reins in leading the country through the economic recovery of the auto industry.

Why has the southern US been accumulating more debt on their autos compared to the rest of the country? The reason, to a great degree, is due to simple economics. According to government figures obtained by, the southern half of the United States has weathered the economic crisis better than the rest of the country. The south has had the advantage of a relatively steady employment rate throughout the national recession. These employment rates have continued to increase throughout the recent summer months. Louisiana in particular has added jobs at a higher rate compared to the rest of the nation. Steady employment and relatively stable household income means that the South now has a little extra spending money.

In addition to increased volume in auto loans, delinquencies on existing loans have been decreasing over the past few months. Lower default rates and increased auto loan balances is considered welcome news for the auto industry. The US auto industry took a hard hit during the recent financial recession. Banks were unwilling or unable to loan out large amounts of money to the public for the financing of auto purchases. Auto companies in turn were unable to sell their vehicles which led to a backlog of auto inventory. With banks now loosening credit restrictions and lending money more often, people have started to take advantage of the current low interest rates and started purchasing new vehicles. The Heart of Dixie has become a shining example of how the American spirit will always prevail in challenging times.

Of course, if you live in the #2 city of Houston and need to finance a car, be sure to check out our Houston page for more information.

Read the full article here:

Fort Worth Resident? Check These Low Rates…, drawing from the interest rate database maintained by Informa Research Services, has identified 10 of the lowest auto loans interest rates in the Fort Worth area. While average rates in the city range from 5.14% to 4.16% APR, these rates range from 3.49% to 1.99% APR. Lenders include Bank of America, Chase, Prosperity Bank, Tarrant County Credit Union, and Fort Worth CCU. Of course, the majority of these rates can only be had with 36-48 month loans, though there are a couple of 60-month loans are on the list. Also, as you may guess, these are largely “OAC” rates, meaning you’ll need quite good credit to qualify.

Go here to learn more: