If you’re in the market for a new used car, you can count on CARFAX to provide a detailed vehicle history report.

Don’t get stuck with a lemon, spend a few dollars on the CARFAX report – It will save you money in the long run and provide valuable negotiating leverage when shopping for a used car.

Listen to the Car Fox: Show me the CARFAX!

CARFAX is a service that provides you a complete car history report. All you need is the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) or license plate, and you’ll gain access to information about all previous owners, accidents, service records, and everything else that might influence your purchasing decision.

CARFAX is the industry standard for vehicle history reports for a reason. A quick search for “Free CARFAX Report” will return lots of people promising free or cheaper products, but you don’t always get what they’re offering. Many sites will buy CARFAX reports in bulk, then resell them to you, the consumer, at a discount. However, these resellers do not have access to the complete catalog that CARFAX does, and you are basically at the mercy of whatever they decided to buy. Sites that offer you reports completely for free are probably going to be dead links or scams – the only way to get a CARFAX report for free is to get the car seller to purchase it for you. Luckily, used car dealerships do this as a show of good faith, and CARFAX themselves have a great search tool for you to find them in your area!

About the company

CARFAX, Inc. is a commercial web-based service that supplies vehicle history reports to individuals and businesses on used cars and light trucks for the American and Canadian marketplaces.


In 1984 CARFAX was founded in Columbia, Missouri, by a computer professional named Ewin Barnett III working with Robert Daniel Clark, an accountant from Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. The company is now headquartered in Centreville, Virginia, with a data center operation in Columbia. Barnett was initially trying to combat odometer fraud. By working closely with the Missouri Automobile Dealers Association, in 1986 he offered the early version CARFAX vehicle history report to the dealer market. These reports were developed with a database of just 10,000 records and were distributed via fax machine. By the end of 1993, CARFAX obtained title information from nearly all fifty states. In December 1996, the company's website was launched to offer consumers the same vehicle history reports already available to businesses. In the fall of 1999, CARFAX became a wholly owned subsidiary of R.L. Polk & Company.

Products and Services

CARFAX offers several free products and services and charges a fee for more comprehensive reports.

Free products and services

The company offers four free vehicle research services—Lemon Check, Record Check, Recall Check, and Problem Car. While these services are helpful, they do not contain all of the information provided in a full CARFAX vehicle history report.

The company also provides Car Safety and Reliability Ratings, which provides access to reviews and other data from sources such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, J.D. Power and Associates, IntelliChoice and others.

Vehicle history reports

The CARFAX Vehicle History Report is the company's core product. Users purchase either a single report or create an account for building multiple reports for different vehicles, allowing consumers to utilize CARFAX over a period of time as they search for a vehicle. Buyers can also request CARFAX reports for free from auto dealers who offer the CARFAX service, and some automakers routinely provide CARFAX reports as part of their pre-owned vehicle programs.

Information Sources

CARFAX has access to ten billion records from more than 34,000 sources, including motor vehicle departments for all 50 U.S. states and all 10 Canadian provinces. The company's information sources include U.S. state title and registration records, auto and salvage auctions, Canadian motor vehicle records, rental and fleet vehicle companies, consumer protection agencies, state inspection stations, extended warranty companies, insurance companies, fire and police departments, manufacturers, inspection companies, service and repair facilities, dealers and import/export companies. CARFAX lists only information that is reported to them and consumers should not take this report to a be complete accident history. Not all accidents are disclosed and CARFAX uses the language "no accidents have been reported to CARFAX, the emphasis being on "reported". Consumers should not rely on CARFAX alone when checking out a used vehicle.