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When purchasing a pre-owned vehicle, you can have greater peace of mind about its reliability when you get a vehicle history report from CarFax. Reviewing the information on this report can help you determine whether it is the right vehicle to buy or if you should pass it up for a better option.

What is CarFax?

CarFax began in 1984 as a way to provide the history on used vehicles being sold. It quickly grew to include reports from the inspection databases of all 50 states to give buyers information about the age, mileage and other statistics for the vehicle they were interested in buying. It uses the vehicle identification number (VIN) of a vehicle to determine pertinent information.

What is included in CarFax reports?

The VIN is used to search records and provide information about the vehicle you are considering purchasing. It goes back to the beginning of the vehicle’s history and provides a complete record based on specific information gleaned from various databases. Here is a breakdown of the information you can expect to find in a CarFax report:

  • Any previous accidents or damage to the vehicle, including whether the airbags have been deployed

  • Odometer history to ensure accurate mileage

  • Any issues with titling, including salvage, flooding or fire

  • Any recalls or repurchases by dealers because of major problems, also referred to as lemon status

  • Records of previous owners and the number of times the vehicle has been sold and length of ownership; also provides information as to whether the vehicle was used as a rental

  • Any service and maintenance records that are available

  • Whether the vehicle is still under warranty

  • Crash-test results on the make and model, safety recalls and other information specific to the model

Information received comes from reliable and authoritative sources. Each state’s Department of Motor Vehicles provides a bulk of the data. It is also gathered from insurance companies, car rental companies, collision-repair shops, law enforcement agencies, auction houses, inspection stations, and dealerships.

CarFax passes on all information it receives in the reports it provides. However, it isn’t a guarantee that the data is complete. If the information doesn’t make it to one of the agencies that reports to CarFax, it won’t be included in the report.

How to get a CarFax report

Many dealers offer a CarFax report with every used vehicle they sell. In fact, they are often provided with a certified pre-owned vehicle as part of the program. You can also ask about receiving a report if one isn’t automatically provided.

Another option is to purchase a report on your own. You may want to do this if you are buying from an individual. You can buy one report or purchase multiple or even an unlimited number of reports, but they are only good for 30 days. If you are shopping around for a vehicle but haven’t found one yet, the unlimited package allows you to run multiple VINs during the 30-day period.

Getting a clean report

A clean report from CarFax just means the vehicle hasn’t had any major issues reported. This means the title is clean with no salvage or rebuilt title. It hasn’t been involved in flooding or fire, according to records. There are no outstanding liens against it that would make it illegal to sell. The odometer reading matches what is listed in the report, and the vehicle hasn’t been reported as stolen.

When you get a clean report from CarFax, it can provide peace of mind about the car you are purchasing. However, it’s important to conduct an inspection before you buy to ensure the vehicle doesn’t have any hidden problems that went unreported.


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Pardeep

20 years of experience
652 reviews
Pardeep
20 years of experience
Ford Fusion - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Fremont, California
Again 5 star service. And already scheduling him for my next appointment. Highly recommend Pardeep for your car needs.
Chevrolet Camaro - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - San Jose, California
Great knowledgeable mechanic and fast great work. I will use Pardeep and your services again. Thank you

Theodore

15 years of experience
1137 reviews
Theodore
15 years of experience
Toyota Camry - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Everett, Washington
Theodore arrived on time, he did a great job replacing my brakes on my Camry, I will definitely work with him again.
Subaru Outback - Brake Pads Replacement (Front, Rear) - Renton, Washington
We have had previous work done by Theodore. Really appreciate his thoroughness and professionalism!

Matthew

32 years of experience
734 reviews
Matthew
32 years of experience
Jeep Wrangler - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Yorktown, Virginia
We've been using Your Mechanic services for a few years, for a few reasons. The convenience of having an expert mechanic "on-call," the great pricing and transparency for services (saving 10% - 25% at times), most of all Matt is our go-to guy who is highly qualified, knowledgeable in the work and knows how to explain it to us in detail.
Ford F-150 - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Newport News, Virginia
Matt's technical knowledge of his profession is incredible! He is prompt, thorough, friendly, professional, engaging, and completes the job to 100% perfection! Thank you, Matt for the most outstanding auto repair service in all my many years!!!

Jason

31 years of experience
162 reviews
Jason
31 years of experience
Nissan Altima - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - San Mateo, California
Jason was very professional and friendly. He provided extremely honest and helpful advice on issues with my Altima that would require proactive future maintenance.

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