Free Car History Reports
If you aren’t prepared to shell out the $39 you’ll need for a CARFAX report, there are some options available.
CARFAX themselves offer many free services. Their Lemon Check service runs a full report in the background – you won’t get to see the report itself, but it will tell you the total number of history records available for that VIN, as well as if any of those were Manufacturer Buyback or Lemon records. The drawback to this method is that you won’t be able to see any accidents or similar problems with the vehicle, which could lead to costly repairs down the line.
CARFAX also offers, completely free, a PROBLEM CAR CHECK. Simply enter a vehicle, and they will generate a short list of cars for sale in the area that have red flags attached to the VIN. This can be a great way to narrow your initial search, weeding out problem cars from the get-go, and may be especially useful if you’re considering any private sales.
Many times, used car dealerships have accounts with CARFAX already, and can access unlimited reports for no additional fee. If you’re shopping at a dealership, don’t be afraid to ask for the vehicle history report. Even if you’re buying from a private seller, don’t be afraid to ask the owner to purchase the report! If they have nothing to hide, they should easily be able to absorb that cost, if it can help them seal the deal.
A bare-bones report is also available from the National Insurance Crime Bureau. With a VIN, you can search for any evidence of fraud in the vehicle’s history, including theft and major accidents.
However, the best way to access a free CARFAX report is to simply start your shopping on CARFAX. Their website features a search function for all catalogued vehicles for sale from dealerships that have subscribed to CARFAX. Enter your zip code, and search by make, model, or type (sedan, SUV, etc.), and filter by different issues you want to avoid – once you find a vehicle you’re interested in, the CARFAX report is available in full with the click of a button – completely free, no strings attached.