If you are in the market for a used or new car besides a pre-sales inspection and a test drive, you should also do a car history check. In this article, we list the Top 3 CarFax and AutoCheck history report alternatives. Don't Buy A Used Vehicle Without A Vin Report. The only problem is that Carfax and Autocheck are too expensive. Decipher the VIN number can tell you a lot about the car. Identify the VIN number on the car by looking at the dashboard or at the driver's door. You will see a 17 digit long VIN number. The VIN number on every single car is unique. All car buyers should run a VIN number search. While you should always run a history report, do not relay 100% on a history report, even on CarFax. Even CarFax and AutoCheck can miss frame, accident and body damage.
Top 3 CarFax Alternatives
VIN Lookup sites that will save you money.
- VINAudit - Cheap single vehicle history report.
- VINCarHistory -$9.99 for VIN history reports
- VINAlert - Vehicle and Motorcycle History Reports
There is no such thing as a free history report. Certainly, there is nothing more annoying that websites that lie and say FREE history reports just to get you hooked. Even worse are the websites that will state "FREE VIN History" but only offer FREE spam and viruses. With that said, some new VIN history companies offer free history reports to members in different car forums. They will only offer one free report per member. You will have to search the main forums dedicated to your car.
Absolutely Free - Check Theft and Salvage History
You can use the National Insurance Crime Bureau to check if a vehicle has any Theft Record or Total Loss / Rebuilt / Salvage History. Visit the National Insurance Crime Bureau website and enter the VIN number. It's completely free but it does not provide any vehicle maintenance or minor accident records.
What does a Vehicle History Report show?
A Vehicle History Report can tell you a lot about a car, including.
- Title History (Clear, Salvage, Restored, Rebuilt, Flood)
- If the car was a lease or rental car
- Maintenance History if it was reported by the facility
Allways run a history report to find out major title problems. But keep in mind that even issues can be missed by a history report. We strongly recommend also to do a pre-sale inspection on cars that you are looking to purchase.
Watch the video below and you will see several examples of frame and accident damage missed by CarFax.
Buying from a Dealer or Private Party
If you are buying from a dealer, ask them to private the vehicle history report. Most of them provide it for free. And even if they don't normally, if you state that you are going to buy the car but want to see the history report first. The same goes for private party owners as well. The only concern is if the seller is honest or not. A history report provided by someone else can be easily faked or items can be erased from the downloaded report. When dealing with a private party, it's best to run your own history reports and here is your best alternative. If you are looking at lots of cars, and need a cheap alternative to CarFax or Autocheck look at our top 3 alternatives above.
Which VIN History Report is Best to Use?
That's a very good question. The information provided on a car vehicle history report can vary depending on the report provider. All the VIN providers will show you at a minimum this data:
- Accident History
- Total Loss Records
- Junk and Salvage Title
- Structural Damages
- Taxi, Lease, Police Use
- Theft Check
- Last Reported Odometer Reading
This is some of the most basic data that is pulled from NMVTIS Data (National Motor Vehicle Title Information System) - Official Government Source. All the Top 3 History Providers we listed above, including CarFax and AutoCheck pull data from NMVTIS Government Database. From our experience, AutoCheck is a good at showing the damage announcements related to cars sold at auto auctions. CarFax does better with showing maintenance history. Keep in mind that even the car history report can miss important problems with the car. Especially frame and auction announced damages.
5 Key Items Reported in Vehicle History Reports
- Title and Last Title Date Verifying the validity of the title helps prevent auto fraud and theft.
- Brand History Brands are descriptive labels (applied by state motor vehicle titling agencies) regarding the status of a motor vehicle, such as "junk," "salvage," and "flood." NMVTIS keeps a history of brands that have been applied to the vehicle by any state.
- Odometer Reading The crime of odometer fraud may result in a consumer paying more than the vehicle?s fair market value or cause the consumer to purchase an unsafe vehicle.
- Total Loss When a vehicle has been deemed a total loss, generally the vehicle has had severe damage. Knowing whether a vehicle has been declared a total loss helps consumers avoid purchasing a potentially unsafe vehicle.
- Salvage History Similar to a vehicle with a total loss history, a vehicle that has a salvage history has had severe damage. Salvage history helps consumers avoid purchasing a potentially unsafe vehicle.
List Source: NMVTIS Official Website
With so many cars being flooded, title washing is a real concern. What is title washing? Title washing hides the history of a vehicle that?s been salvaged. Titles are washed by transferring a salvaged vehicle to a state that doesn?t recognize the brand. When the state issues a new title, it may no longer show that it was salvaged. If not, the seller will move it from state to state until the title is washed clean. Because a vehicle history report shows the full history of the car, you will know if the title has been washed.
Odometer tampering continues to be a serious crime and consumer fraud issue. There are dishonest sellers out there who intentionally roll odometers back so they can artificially inflate the vehicle?s value. Vehicles that have a low mileage are priced higher. If you belive you have been a victim of odometer fraud, report fraud to federal government investigatgor in your state. Find Government Investigators in your state to report Odometer Fraud Contact NHTSA to Report Odometer Fraud
Avoid Car Title and Fraud Problems by Running a VIN History Report