carfax vehicle history report

5 Ways to Get a Free CARFAX History Report Before Buying a Used Car

Do you want to get a free CARFAX report? It’s so important to check a car’s history before you purchase it. You can check the history of a used car you’re thinking about buying to see what you might be getting into.

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And when it comes to car history reports, there’s arguably a no better one than a vehicle history report from Carfax. The only problem is Carfax reports are expensive. One report will sell you back $39.99.

One way to dig into a used car’s past is to get a free Carfax report 2022, which provides information such as the vehicle’s accident, damage, and ownership history.

What is CARFAX?

CARFAX is a detailed report of a vehicle. Both individuals and dealerships/auto companies can use CARFAX reports to make sure they’re getting good deals on cars.

For individuals buying a car, the CARFAX report helps them understand what the vehicle has been through.

The results could make a buyer think twice about buying a car (if it’s been through several accidents, for example, it might not be safe) and help them see if they’re getting a good price.

Dealerships can also use CARFAX reports to determine whether a car they’re thinking of buying for their lot is worth its price tag. It can also help them value cards for trade-ins.

When you want to learn more about a car with CARFAX, you’ll just need to get the VIN (vehicle identification number) for the vehicle.

Give that number to CARFAX, pay for the report, and CARFAX will do its thing. CARFAX aggregates its information from thousands of sources, including:

  • The United States motor vehicle agencies,
  • Auto auctions
  • Car dealerships
  • Rental agencies
  • Insurance companies
  • State inspection agencies
  • Salvage and recycle yards
  • Collision repair companies

The data CARFAX collects on the vehicle can tell you a lot about the car, including what it’s been through and the kind of condition it could now be in.


What Does a Carfax Report Show You?

The Carfax vehicle history report is very comprehensive. This report is incredibly detailed and tells you everything you need to know about a vehicle. Here’s what a report from Carfax checks for:

‣ Major accidents

‣ Multiple owners

‣ Vehicle service

‣ Mileage rollback

‣ Flood damage

‣ Airbag deployment

‣ Mileage rollover

‣ Not actual mileage state-owned

‣ Total loss

‣ Rebuilt

‣ Structural damage

‣ Open recalls

‣ Registration history

‣ Warranty information

‣ Salvage titles

‣ Estimated miles are driven per year

Last reported mileage

‣ Length of ownership

‣ Commercial or personal use

‣ Service history

‣ Hail damage

‣ Branded a lemon

‣ Junked

What Do You Need CARFAX for?

A CARFAX report can give you tons of information on a vehicle you’re interested in, including information about odometer readings, any airbag deployments, and whether the warranty has been used, voided, or is still usable.

Here are a few of the most important pieces of information you’ll find in the report:

Number of Owners

A CARFAX lists all known owners of the vehicle (without their personal information exposed, of course). Why is this important?

It’s always good to see how many owners your car has been through because the more owners it has, the more possibilities of the car being in not-so-great shape.

This isn’t always true, of course. But most times, a car that’s only had one owner tends to be in better shape than those with multiple owners.

When a car has only had one owner, it’s easier for that owner to keep track of maintenance and repairs because the owner knows its full history, making it easier for you to know what to expect from the car.

Accident History

You’ll also learn about a vehicle’s accident history, including the type of accident(s) they involved it in and when, and whether there was any structural damage to the car.

CARFAX also lets you know the severity of the damage using a scale that ranges from minor to severe.

The report will also note if they have deployed the airbags on the vehicle and what dates the deployments were recorded. This is important to note because airbags need to be repaired when deployed.

If a report shows that airbags have already been deployed, then you should be sure to get an inspection to see if we have repaired them before you buy.


If they have involved a vehicle in any recalls, the CARFAX report will note the year of the recall.

However, you’ll need to get a hold of an allowed dealership for that vehicle’s manufacturer to get more details about the type of recall.

Service History

When dealerships or service facilities note a vehicle’s service, that service date gets put into a database that CARFAX can access to add to the report.

In most cases, you’ll be able to see what kind of servicing was done, as an oil and filter change, tires changed and rotated, or a new motor put in.

Some servicing details could be left out, though, depending on what a facility reports. Still, get a good overall look as to what they have done to the vehicle, how often owners kept up with basic maintenance, etc.

Branded Titles

Some cars get branded titles, so it has compromised them in some way. A branded title can label a car as a lemon, a salvage, water damaged, rebuilt, junk, and more.

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This just means that, at some point, the car had a title with the label(s) mentioned in the CARFAX report.

The car’s issues could have been taken care of since then, but a branded title is definitely something you’ll want to look into further.

Ways to Get a Free CARFAX Report 2022

1. Shop with CARFAX

First, you can shop with CARFAX itself. The website lists used cars for sale near you you can browse and find a dealer for.

If you use CARFAX to search for and find the car you want to buy, you should be able to get your report for free.

That’s because the cars listed on the website come with a CARFAX report for free! This is definitely the best way to go to ensure that you can get a free report when you’re researching cars.

2. Sign Up for a CARFAX Car Care Account

CARFAX has a free Car Care account you can sign up for to get information about your car that you own now.

This can be a great way to learn more about your car, its service history, and what services it might be due for now or soon.

You can access all the tools and information right from your Car Care account, including recall information.

3. Ask the Dealership

Many dealerships are happy to provide you with a free CARFAX report 2022 for a vehicle you’re interested in.

They probably have one on file anyway that they can print or copy for you.

And if not, they’ll usually go ahead and get one for you if it means they might get a new customer. The least you can do is ask for one!

4. Ask the Owner to Pay for One

If you’re buying from a private seller instead of a dealership, you can ask the seller if they can copy the CARFAX report for you or order one

Again, most people will be happy to spend $40 if they think you will probably buy their car from them.

5. Browse Online Car Listing Websites

Some other used car listing websites, like Autotrader, also provide free CARFAX report 2022 for some cars, although they don’t list them for all cars like CARFAX does. But it’s still worth a try if you find a car you like on one of them.

Other Free Carfax Resources for Owners and Buyers

You may also want to sign up for a free Carfax account to access the following resources for your own vehicle or a possible future vehicle:

  • Airbag Check searches the Carfax database to verify if they reported an airbag deployment for a vehicle.
  • Odometer Fraud Check verifies if a vehicle had its odometer tampered with and rolled back, making it potentially unsafe.
  • Branded Title Check verifies if they have given a vehicle a permanent title mark or a title brand because of a fire, crash, flood, or has severely damaged it someone has tampered its odometer with.
  • Flooded Car Check verifies if a flood-related title brand was reported to Carfax for a vehicle.


What Should I Look for in a Vehicle History Report?

Once you get a vehicle history report, here are some questions some dealers recommend you ask. 

  • Has the car been involved in any crashes?
  • How much damage has the car sustained?
  • Has the car ever been totaled?
  • Has the manufacturer issued any recalls?
  • Does it look as if the odometer has been altered?
  • How many owners has the car had?
  • What type of maintenance and repair has the car undergone?

What Should I Do After Reading the Vehicle History Report?

carfax vehicle history report

A vehicle history report from Carfax or another provider can help you decide whether to buy a car. But it’s not the only consideration.

For instance, the FTC points out that a vehicle history report isn’t a substitute for a vehicle inspection by an independent mechanic, even if the car has been certified by a dealer or if it comes with a warranty.

This inspection can detect hidden damage and other problems.

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