Punch in that number on the site's home page, and in seconds you'll get a very nice history report letting you know whether there are any accident, junk, salvage, and other insurance records on the car you want to buy. The report also lists the number of recalls associated with all cars of that make, model, and year, as well as where they are manufactured and even their body style.
If you have VIN number, the website will check a car's history for, among other things:. Additionally, CarFax can tell you if the car is a "total loss" where the insurance company declares the car a total loss , whether the vehicle has been rebuilt, if it has sustained flood damage, and even if the airbag has ever deployed. But, CarFax reports are not free. So, why is the service listed in this article? This is where you may be able to get a car dealership to provide you with a CarFax report for free — at least if you are seriously thinking of buying a car.
How do I get a free Carfax report?
So, if you're at a dealership, feel free to ask for a complimentary CarFax report. Do you want a highly detailed overview of the vehicle, or do you simply want to check to make sure the sale is legitimate? Are you spending a significant amount of money on a long-term daily driver, or are you simply getting the cheapest possible beater to get you from point A to B?
Are you seeking a particular vehicle, or are you willing to take whatever fits your budget?
Those who are making a serious investment would be wise to use Carfax or both platforms. The extra cost of Carfax gives you priceless peace of mind, knowing that you've used the most comprehensive option. Even if you're not actively seeking specific information, you may be surprised when new details show up that you didn't expect.
At the same time, Autocheck is still a very handy tool that may accomplish everything you need and more -- especially if you want a numerical Autocheck score that sums up the information for you. Just make sure that the information you're seeking is, in fact, covered by Autocheck's database. Finally, if you're browsing many different cars, it may make more sense to use Autocheck's 25 or limit plan. That way you have the freedom to generate reports on any vehicle that sparks your interest, without having to dwell on the cost.
Choose the report that's right for you
After all, if you're spending some time finding that perfect ride, the cost of paying for each individual report adds up fast. While there's no denying that both Carfax and Autocheck reports are extremely useful, it's important to remember that both reports are limited to their databases, meaning that even the most detailed reports could be missing certain information. Carfax receives data from more organizations, so if there's an undisclosed issue with the vehicle, you're more likely to find it there.
Additionally, Carfax does state that if there's a mistake on your vehicle history report, they will buy the vehicle back from you. However, even using both Carfax and Autocheck doesn't guarantee that you're going to discover every existing or potential issue. Some issues may have never been reported, or Carfax or Autocheck may not have access to certain information. There's always going to be a certain amount of risk involved in buying used vehicles. The trick is to use tools like these to mitigate the risk.
The odds are in your favor. After all, between both platforms, you have access to a tremendous amount of information.
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Just try not to depend on them as your only source of information. When it comes to learning about a car's history, it's wise to shop at reputable car lots and online platforms. You may be able to get a great deal buying through an independent seller, but there's more risk involved too. If you do decide to buy from an independent dealer, communication is key.
Spend some time researching the vehicle. Learn about common issues related to that specific model. Once you're armed with knowledge, you can ask the seller questions. Of course, there's no guarantee that a seller is going to be honest about the vehicle's history. At the same time, simply showing that you're an informed shopper is often enough to encourage sellers to be more transparent.
In many cases you'll get one or both reports for free.
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For example, here at Autolist, our platform gives you access to thousands of new and used car listings, as well as detailed information such as how long the car has been for sale and how its price compares to similar cars. That way you can make an informed decision on how to proceed. In many cases dealers listing their vehicles on Autolist will provide a free Carfax report. If you're shopping elsewhere and the seller doesn't offer a report and you're serious about buying a specific vehicle from them -- ask them to provide you one for free. Many sellers will provide one gladly; just make sure that you're genuinely interested in the vehicle, as the seller may have to pay for the report out of pocket.
If you're buying privately or the seller declines to make a report available, it's up to you if you want to spend the money. However, if the seller isn't willing to pay for the report, you may want to look elsewhere. After all, while there's nothing wrong with pinching pennies, a good seller recognizes a buyer's need for details. If they're not providing as many details as possible, there might be a reason. If your dealer refuses to work with you to help you make an informed purchase, you may want to find a seller with a better reputation and a more buyer-friendly approach especially if you're not well-versed int he automotive industry.
Free VIN Report, VIN Decoder, & VIN Check for Used Cars
At the end of the day, it never hurts to have as much information as possible. After all, even a relatively cheap used car is still a major purchase. When you look at the big picture, paying a little bit of extra money for these reports isn't going to make a big difference in your overall spending, and the information gained can go a long way in protecting your investment as a car buyer. When it comes down to Carfax vs. Autocheck, both companies enjoy excellent reputations in the industry and can provide you with important information. It's up to you to determine if an Autocheck report is enough to meet your needs, or if you prefer a more robust detailing of the vehicle in question.
AutoCheck's 25 reports in 21 days plan can be an economical way to check the history of a variety of vehicles you're interested in. Autocheck vehicle history reports may not be as detailed, but if you only need basic information or a simple rating, often they're just fine.
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CarFax, meanwhile, gives you a great look at the service history of a vehicle so you have a keen sense of what work a car has had done and what work you might need to be prepared for. If you're buying a more expensive vehicle, or if you're just highly detail-oriented, a Carfax report may be ideal for you.
The vehicle history report pulls all the various records together in a single document. All this information indicates — without even going to physically inspect the car — whether you should buy it. You can buy individual vehicle history reports or a subscription for a limited time, usually the number of weeks it takes to shop for and buy a used car. A free way to get very basic information about a used car is to visit the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
If you type in the identification number of the car you want to buy, you will at least be able to see if it has been issued a salvage title or if it was stolen. Another way to get free vehicle history reports is through online classified car ads. If you are used car shopping in person, either at an independent used car lot or a car dealership, simply ask the salesperson for the vehicle history report.