Look for these things on a vehicle history report when ... Look for these things on a vehicle history report when buying a used car (rjs1322, Flickr).
Old cars don't die, they just get resold. If you're buying a used car, whether from a dealer or someone who put an ad in the paper, you'll want to know as much about it as you can. Even without anyone trying to deceive you, the vehicle may have problems you can't see from the simple visual inspection or even a short test drive.

A vehicle history report prepared by a third party is one way to know what you're getting. Combining information from the state DMV's and RMV's as well as police reports and other sources, a vehicle history report can give you a comprehensive overview of where a car's been.

Here are some things to look for – or look out for – when you get a report on the vehicle. None of these things is necessarily a reason not to buy a car, but you shouldn't make a decision without asking about anything you see on a vehicle's history:

- Many owners. The more garages a car's been in, the less likely it's been lovingly cared for all its life. Not everyone is as diligent about car care as you are. Rental cars and former taxis, for example, will often have undergone a lot of abuse, although they tend to be quite inexpensive.

- Location, location, location. Some parts of the country are more car-friendly than others. Winter storms (with their accompanying salty roads) can be rough on cars, as obviously can floods, excessive heat or even sea air. Cars that have been where these are common may have hidden damage.

- Name and description. Be sure the car in the report is the same as the car you're looking at. Carefully reviewing the vehicle description is one way to avoid various types of vehicle fraud, like VIN cloning. A cloned vehicle involves using a vehicle identification number (VIN) from a legally owned, non-stolen vehicle to mask the identity of a similar make/model stolen vehicle. Carfax reports include detailed descriptions of the vehicle, so you can make sure the car you're reading about is the same as the one you're looking at.

- Suspicious markings. Keep an eye out for records of body work that might indicate a prior unreported incident.

Vehicle history reports from Carfax are the most comprehensive available. The company's database contains more than 8 billion records from thousands of public and private sources, including all Department of Motor Vehicles (DMVs) in the United States and Canada and thousands of vehicle inspection stations, auto auctions, fleet management and rental agencies, automobile manufacturers, and fire and police departments.

Learn more at carfax.com


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  • 22 Comments
      Steve Branch
      • 3 Years Ago
      The CarFax report for my seven year old car, which I bought new in 2004, said that 3 months after I bought it the car was reported as a total loss. No such thing happened and I got my insurance carrier to write a letter to CarFax disputing the report. After several weeks, CarFax responded that their source, which they refused to disclose, had confirmed that the total loss report was correct and therefor the report would not be changed. My insurance company is now reporting the incident to the state insurance fraud agency as a possible VIN Cloning situation. So CarFax eports are not only incomplete, as others have said, but they sometimes contain totally erroneous information.
      Ed
      • 3 Years Ago
      People, the car fact is balonny, the reports only reflect what the owners say about the car they just traded, think your would put down the negative thing on the report, and the seller, all he knows is what the DMV report say's regarding how many owners it had, what a scam, but it's working for them.
      Popeye Americannews
      • 2 Years Ago
      I've never seen a Carfax with a bad report, so I quit looking at them. The are worthless, imo.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Unfortunately, Carfax is very expensive. I can get a $4.99 vehicle report from VinAudit for only $4.99 using this link -- http://www.vinaudit.com/coupon=CACF_50OFF
      igxe girl
      • 2 Years Ago
      Car-fax tends to have a lot of missing information. Consumers really don't know how to interpret he information in front of them. A minor accident that shows on a Car-fax report does not make that car a bad car. Several times it'll show an ownership transfer when in fact it's only the dealer that put the vehicle in their name before selling it. Other reports will show one-owner when in fact just by reading the repport you can see the vehicle has had several owners. Car-fax needs to be used only as a guide and not an absolute. Have your car checked by a knowledgeable independent shop which in most cases is much more reliable than a Car-fax report. If the product was as good as its advertising Car-fax would be great. FFXI Girl: http://www.mmoxe.com/FFXI/
      • 3 Years Ago
      carfax is highly innaccurate and totally unreliable
      First Nameyhy
      • 3 Years Ago
      http://www.okadeal.com/ ----- ~ ¤ ╭⌒╮ ╭⌒╮ ╭⌒╭⌒╮╭⌒╮~╭⌒ ,)))),'')~~ ,''~) ╱◥█◣ ╱◥█◣ |田|田||田 田| ╬╬╬╬╬╬╬╬╬╬╬╬╬╬ shop website URL: http://www.gotradebiz.com/ 2011 NEW and BIG ON SALE NOW: (Jordan shoes $30-35) (LV handbag $30-35) (Chanel wwallet $20-25) (D&G sunglasses $15-20) (NBA jersey $40-55) ect----more detail: http://www.okadeal.com/
      • 3 Years Ago
      be careful when dealing with Toyota .I couldn't stop the screwing I got when my 2000 Celica was taken in for a diagnoses on whether it was my transmission or clutch going out and they miss diagnosed the problem.which turned out to be the transmission.In which manual transmissions usually don't go out. So after paying $1700.00 for an clutch job I didn't need {yes that's right $1700.00} they broke the speedometer part and only ordered half the parts , wanted to give me only the labor free to fix the transmission, kept my car for about a month and half or longer, ,took off almost all the screws to the plastic wheel wells on all four tires, never sent me the screws they said they would order and send me ,treated me like a lame and wouldn't give me the name or phone number to the main office or owner which originally was the one who told me I had to take it to a dealer for a diagnoses first ,nor could I make a appointment to talk to someone higher up with these problems, and paid off or had friends from the Bueral of Automotive Repair because they open and shut my case when it was faulty from the first page of my paper work. not only did they over charge me treated me like ****, the stress of it all physically affected my health they got away with it for now so be very careful or they could screw you too especially if you are a woman! And thats making a long story short !!!!!!! Oh and missed the extended warranty by 20,000mi.....Why would toyota do such a thing ?
        Oscar
        • 2 Years Ago
        A friend of mine just had a case of sudden acceleration in reverse on a 2006 Toyota Carolla. Toyota denied that it could have happened. Two cars behind the Carolla were wiped out. I thought Toyota had corrected all this type of problems. Apparently not.
      wfathertime
      • 2 Years Ago
      CarFax high priced cost for false information. Not all the fault lays with Carfax, in most cases I have found there to be others involved. Currently own one vehicle myself Had to junk one, because it turned out to be a worked over flood car. CarFax showed two owners and only normal maintaince. The used car dealer left a copy of the Carfax in the car it clearly showed the date he purchased the vechile. He got taken also. When I bought the vehicle as is, the price was right. More than forty years working on vechiles, and still it can be hard to find damage if consealed. Only reason I even found out was I had to go under the dash behind a few things to change a part. What I found was sea weed. Flood cars that are new if purchased at the right price can be very good vehicles to buy for someone that has the time to take each part out clean it properly and replace things that water can case damage to. As long as the engine was properly cleaned within a short period of time ther is little trouble with what I call the hard block. In most cases if drained in a short period of time oil from the engine will still be protecting the metal parts. Light oil can be used as a flush, done several times with short run times. Warmth of the engie will remove the tiny bits of water that maybe left behind. I have had some very good luck with this. One thing I was the owner and the operator of the vehicles. Since I used to drive many miles a year it was easy exceed 100,000. By that time they were junk and sent to scrap. Not a resale item in my book. The problems everyone one seems to be having, is caused by any number of issues. Ever the best machanics today are faced with there own share of problems. My son is licensed and certified and his specialty is auto electrionic controllers. We have had many talks about vehicles, He said the true problem is that car companies change parts so often that without a vin number they can not find the right part. It leaves them part changing till they find the cause of the problem. Even the new car dealers are having problems. By the way the lady that spent $1700.00 on that clutch. The part new from a parts house such as Auto Zone, Advanced, Nappa, just a few I use can give you some idea what the real part is worth. Labor good luck there. Best things is check with friends that had work done an did not feel like they were totally riped off. I actually did a clutch 2000 not all that long ago. If I still had a shop the one thing I know I would never have a day off. Or a night. Good luck people. Always read the fine print and be sure to get everything in writing. Stay away from people that will not sign what they write. By the way I did fail spelling, grammer, puncuation LOL most things involving English.
      First Nameyhy
      • 3 Years Ago
      http://www.okadeal.com/ ----- ~ ¤ ╭⌒╮ ╭⌒╮ ╭⌒╭⌒╮╭⌒╮~╭⌒ ,)))),'')~~ ,''~) ╱◥█◣ ╱◥█◣ |田|田||田 田| ╬╬╬╬╬╬╬╬╬╬╬╬╬╬ shop website URL: http://www.gotradebiz.com/ 2011 NEW and BIG ON SALE NOW: (Jordan shoes $30-35) (LV handbag $30-35) (Chanel wwallet $20-25) (D&G sunglasses $15-20) (NBA jersey $40-55) ect----more detail: http://www.okadeal.com/
      richard
      • 3 Years Ago
      did I miss part of this post?? I thought the heading said ( how to read a car report )? maybe I'll go back and read it again, I might have just over looked it, be back in a minute:), Okay, I'm back, nope, it was just another aol trick to get you to read a sloppy attempt of an advert. as many times in the past. I guess thet have make money some how.
      pistolpete58
      • 2 Years Ago
      Why do most auto auctions use autochek over carfax ????
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