Used Auto Buying: What is in a Auto History Report?
Used autos are not always what they appear to be, or what they are described to be. That’s why it’s so important to always get a copy of a CarFax auto history report or a AutoCheck auto history report before you make an offer on any auto.
Every auto has a Vehicle Identification Number, or a VIN, which is a completely unique identification number to that vehicle. No two vehicles have the same VIN. So from the time a auto rolls off the assembly line, all major activities for that auto are usually tracked by different companies. State motor vehicle agencies capture registration information, insurance companies capture accident information, repair shops and auto dealers capture repair records, etc.
CarFax and AutoCheck specialize in acquiring this data from multiple sources, and then maintaining a record on a vehicle’s history, so that when you are ready to purchase a specific auto, you can get some insight on the auto’s past. Using the VIN number of the auto, they will tell you important information about the vehicle history, like whether or not it’s been in an accident, how many owners it has had, the mileage increases over time, and whether or not it’s a salvage or stolen auto.
In addition to test driving a used auto and having an independent mechanic look at it before you buy it, a CarFax or AutoCheck used auto history report will allow you to be confident that you are purchasing a auto that is worth its price. Both CarFax and the AutoCheck reports are available in two different forms; a single report that costs one price, and an unlimited monthly rate that will allow you to view as many VIN search results as you want. If you are shopping around and checking the VIN number and auto history of several vehicles, the latter is probably the option you want.
The top of the CarFax or Auto Check report will have a summary of information about the auto so you can confirm the make, model, year and VIN number. Then the vehicle history report will list any title problems that have ever been associated with that VIN number, such as salvage title, lemon issues, flood or fire damage. Other parts of the vehicle history will be reported further down the report, such as odometer issues or frame damage that may have occurred because of an accident.
Both providers have some unique data sources, so the information may be a little different within the auto history reports. If you really want to protect yourself, you may want to consider getting both reports prior to finalizing a purchase.
Although most reputable auto dealers will provide you a CarFax report or AutoCheck report for free on a specific auto, you may want to acquire them yourself to ensure the report has not been modified or forged in any way.