A crucial step in any used car purchase is getting a vehicle history report. It’s like a window into the car’s past, providing a wealth of material so you can make an informed decision about whether to buy the vehicle and how much you should pay for it. They’re often referred to as Carfax reports, though Carfax.com is just one provider, joined by AutoCheck.com and other sources in providing vehicle history reports. AutoCheck is a division of credit reporting bureau Experian.
Vehicle history reports provide details about a car’s ownership, accident history, title status, mileage, and more. You’ll just need to know the car’s vehicle identification number (VIN) to get started. This guide will walk you through all of the different types of information you can find in a report on a vehicle’s history, including:
How Do I Get a Vehicle History Report?
Many dealers offer free Carfax reports for the cars they have on their lots. If you want to buy a single report from AutoCheck or Carfax, you can expect to pay between $25 and $40. Both companies offer quantity discounts if you need to check out more vehicles. Other vehicle history report providers offer various levels of information, and some do so at lower prices than the market leaders Carfax and Autocheck. Some lenders will also provide customers with a vehicle history report, as it is in their best interest to ensure that any vehicle they are financing is sufficient collateral for the loan.
Sellers of used cars can benefit from purchasing a vehicle history report on their own vehicle and providing a copy to potential buyers. Not only will it save buyers money, but it’s a sign of good faith that you’re not trying to hide anything about the car’s history.
To get a vehicle history report, you simply fill out an online form and provide the VIN, which is found in the lower corner of the windshield on the driver’s side in most cars. If you are looking at a report from a dealer or a seller, take a look at the car’s VIN to ensure it matches the number on the report.
What’s in a Vehicle History Report?
There are volumes of useful vehicle information in a Carfax or AutoCheck report. Some of it can confirm good news about the vehicle you’re considering, while other information can raise red flags. Not every piece of negative information is necessarily a deal-breaker – some can even help you negotiate a better purchase price.
In the next several sections, we’ll explore what is, and is not, in a Carfax, AutoCheck, or other history report.