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.
And when it comes to car history reports, there’s arguably 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 of the ways to dig into a used car’s past is to get a free Carfax report, 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:
United States motor vehicle agencies,
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.
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:
Not actual mileage state owned
Estimated miles driven per year
Last reported mileage
Length of ownership
Commercial or personal use
Branded a lemon
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 in many cases, 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.
You’ll also learn about a vehicle’s accident history, including the type of accident(s) it was involved 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 the airbags have been deployed 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 they’ve been repaired before you buy.
If a vehicle has been involved in any recalls, the CARFAX report will note the year of the recall. However, you’ll need to get a hold of an authorized dealership for that vehicle’s manufacturer to get more details about the type of recall.
When dealerships or service facilities take note of a vehicle’s servicing, 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, like 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, you should get a good overall look as to what’s been done to the vehicle, how often owners kept up with basic maintenance, etc.
Some cars get branded titles, which means that they have been compromised in some way.A branded title can label a car as a lemon, a salvage, water damaged, rebuilt, junk, and more.
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
1. Shop with CARFAX
First, you can shop with CARFAX itself. The website lists used cars for sale near you that you can browse and find a dealer for. If you use CARFAX for 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 that 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 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 can potentially 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 reports 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 an airbag deployment was reported for a vehicle.
Odometer Fraud Checkverifies if a vehicle had its odometer tampered and rolled back, making it potentially unsafe.
Branded Title Check verifies if a vehicle has been given permanent title mark or a title brand because it has been severely damaged by a fire, crash, flood, or its odometer has been tampered with.
Flooded Car Check verifies if a flood-related title brand was reported to Carfax for a vehicle.
Click on the links provided above to go to a Carfax page where you can enter your VIN and email address to create a free account.
What type of maintenance and repair has the car undergone?
What should I do after reading the 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.