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Which Vehicle History Report Is Right for You? Posts: 10,059
edited June 2017 in Editorial
imageWhich Vehicle History Report Is Right for You?

Vehicle History Report, Vehicle Identification Number, Autocheck, Carfax, Used Car, VIN

Read the full story here


  • Nice article comparing AutoCheck and Carfax. During a recent e-Bay search I was provided an AutoCheck report indicating the car had no reported lease/rental history. The Carfax for the same vehicle reported lease/rental history. Putting the slight cost difference for the two services aside and based on my recent experience, I am more inclined to use Carfax over AutoCheck.
  • I got a AutoCheck Vehicle History Report on a 09 Pontiac G-5 on 10/ 10/2009 which stated no problems found in on 2/23/2011 I had a over heating problem and since I only have about 28,000 Miles I took it to a dealer fo warrantee repairs the dealer ask if the car had been in a acciden as the radiator and AC condenser were damaged from a collision so It cost me over $1,500 for repairs.

    I have decided to trade this car in and the dealer ran a Carfax which showed this car was involved in a collision the damage report was about 1 1/2 months before the AutoCheck so you can see the AutoCheck was a waste of my money
  • stu132ustu132u Posts: 1
    With regards to CarFax, I have this simple thing to say: Caveat Emptor - "let the buyer beware". I personally found out that CarFax is not the best investment. Back in 2009 I purchased a 2008 Honda Civic from a car dealer with a "clean CarFax". Jump to July 2010 and while at the dealership in Orlando, FL I was having a couple of warranty items fixed, and I wanted to see what the car's current value is. They ran an AutoCheck (like CarFax BUT more thorough - from the company Experian, the credit reporting company), and it shows that the car had "significant unibody frame damage". I contacted CarFax and their "guarantee" - you have to pull another CarFax within the next 12 months or this doesn't apply. They neglect to tell you this when you agree to purchase CarFax. This dropped the value by over $2000 on the car. I threatened action if the dealer didn't help out - they agreed to take the car back; I got back more than half - not as much as I should have, but I didn't want to deal with the lawsuits and traveling up to Atlanta, GA. Bottom line, don't trust CarFax.

    As for the Carchex, get in writing what their warranty is, and what they actually do for the money. Find a local mechanic that you can trust, and that knows what they are doing. Good luck in your search!

  • Learn from the mistakes of novice car buyers. Never, ever take anyone's word regarding a pre-owned vehicle's history or condition especially the seller!
  • I used VehicleHistory to get info on a car that was for sale on Craigslist. The report indicated nothing about the car being in a significant accident several months earlier. Apparently Vehicle History uses NMVTIS or as it's database. For some reason, this accident was not reported. Does anybody know why?
  • I believer Carfax to be a scam. I don't know about the other services, but I've used Carfax about five our six times and out of those five or six reports, two of the reports failed to report significant accidents. The first time I noticed this was on a car we were selling. Our car had been rear ended right after we purchased it resulting in about $6K worth of damage. The bumper had to be replaced and the damage was not serious, but it should have been reported. The second time Carfax failed to report a significant accident was on a car we purchased. We ran a Carfax report and it showed no accidents but when we tried to insure the car our insurance company told us that the car had been in an accident right before we purchased it which resulted in over $11k worth of damage. We would not have purchased the car had the Carfax report been complete. The accident information must have been reported and readily available since our insurance agent was able to pick it up so quickly. We are very disappointed in Carfax as a result of our two experiences with them.
  • So... where do these companies get their info from?? That is what the NY DMV asked me when my vehicle was erroneously listed as a salvage or reconstructed title from Autocheck. (NOTE: Carfax is clean) The original NY title was in my hand when I went to the Mass registry to re-title the vehicle in my name and it clearly isn't a salvage or reconstructed title (And as proven by a dealership who completely went through the vehicle for me and checked everything out). Someone somewhere listed the title as salvage or reconstructed in whatever database these people use. I recently went to trade in my vehicle and the dealership I went to uses Autocheck. I was told that the vehicle was salvage or reconstructed. I notified Autocheck and provided them with the previous NY title #, and the number to the NY DMV. Autocheck told me flat out that they refuse to call or fix the error because of privacy issues.. I explained that this isn't credit we are talking about and they could call just like I did and talk to a real person in the NY DMV who could confirm that Autoheck has the info listed wrong. No go.... They said that I have to provide them with written evidence from the NY DMV. They aren't going to do a thing about it and basically blew me off. I said I could send the Mass title to them but they don'y want that. They want me to get a letter from the NY DMV (the NY DMV thought that was crazy when I talked to them.. they were baffled All i had to do was prvide the DMV with is a VIN# and no personal info was exchanged) Now I have to fill out a NY MV-15 form and send $10 for a NY title record search and it takes about 2 weeks to get that. Then I have to send it to Experian and wait for them to fix it and who knows how long that will take based on this experience... So don't trust all these sites as far as being accurate. All it takes is one keystroke to ruin your day.
  • fherrickfherrick Posts: 0
    We'd checked out a local dealerships offer for sale of a Ford Lighting with Carfax and got the facts. I had the bright (NOT) idea to check carfax thru looking at Autocheck boy howy they had 29 hits to report. Blowing the other report out of the water, once again (NOT), they HAD NOTHING WORTH REPORTING AND RECOMMENDED THE DEAL. Good ole Car Fax reported the accident that had occurred Apr. of this year. I visited to the local Fiat dealer who is selling the truck I'd investigated. They wanted top dollar and would not deal. Looking at the truck it was obvious enough to see the repair cosmetics, no idea how serious the damage was to the frame and drive gear. Thank goodness for Carfax and Craigs list found one two years younger with clean history in great shape
  • This is not a joke, i actually have a BBB case lodged for this just now.

    Stay away from AutoCheck, use CARFAX.

    I thought they are the same, but they are not.

    I bought the 'ultimate' subscription with AutoCheck and used it to run the report for the few used cars that I was considering to buy from. The report shows the score of 93 out of the 100, where the 90 consider to be the great band. The history seems clean and no accidents was reported at all.

    Time comes to purchase at the deal ship, right before sign up on the paper work, the deal says, hey by the way, you did read the car report beforehand right, yes - of cause i did, i have autocheck, it looks clean; - wait, it does not bother to mention the accident it had last month? the front was crushed ant air bags pop out, we had to go through to replace all of those, including the roof top and all its 4 wheels because they were out of shape. in fact we just got it back from the workshop today so congratulations you got the whole deal almost brand new out right! - wait, what, you didn't know? the accident was clearly listed in the CARFAX report that hang off on our website, for free...

    hence my request to AutoCheck, can i please cancel and get my money back, the information you sold me wasn't really intellegence... what? I can't? It's has been 3 days into the subscription? what, i have ran the report more than one vehicle already? but wait, i thought by definition, the 'comparing' part involves more than 1 vehicle right? what, you don't care but it's the AutoCheck policy...

    Ok, stay away from AutoCheck, use CARFAX.
  • Carfax "Buy Back Guarantee" only guarantees that they will buy the car from you if -- when you purchased the car -- the title was stamped or designated by the state as salvaged. We purchased a 2013 Ford Focus and relied on the dealer's assurances as well the a completely clear CarFax report that showed basic titling information and four regular service records. No accidents or other problems were noted.

    More than six months later, when we took the car in to our local dealer for an engine light service issue did we discover that the car had suffered a front end collision resulting in serious frame damage and major problems with the electrical system. Although the car had less than 20,000 miles and would otherwise have had a full warranty, Ford would not do or guarantee warranty work on the car because of the extensive nature of the damage. In their opinion, the damage was likely severe enough that car was essentially totaled. Two local used car dealers wouldn't buy the car from us at any price.

    We blame ourselves for:

    a) failing to read and understand the fine print of the CarFax "guarantee" -- and
    b) for relying on the clean Carfax report and failing to take the car to have it independently inspected when it was delivered to us.

    Can't imagine anyone would purchase a car with the title stamped "salvaged" and not understand what that meant -- and therefore -- from our perspective, the Carfax "buy back" guarantee is worse than worthless if consumers rely on the report without obtaining an independent evaluation of a vehicle's condition before buying.

    In some cases a Carfax report may have complete and accurate information, but ours is a cautionary tale that sometimes very serious damage and problems are not included in the report and unless the title was stamped "salvage" -- which you wouldn't need Carfax to tell you -- you have no recourse against Carfax.
  • Let me tell you about CarFax's guarantee. I own a DMV office in PA and have been doing this work for 25 years. A customer ran a CarFax on a Buick Grand National and the title came back clean. It turned out the car was a recovered theft in Florida. While the car was not in an accident, FL had originally reported it as Salvage, then changed it to a clean title. It then went to Connecticut where my customer purchased is some years later. Here is the problem. On NMVITIS it was still listed as Salvage. Penndot caught this and want the customer to do a reconstructed title, which would greatly devalue the car. CarFax did not pick up the information readily available on NMVITIS. How is that possible? They also did not stand behind their claim to buy the car back claiming it could be "fixed". But they didn't fix it. which should have been their responsibility. Who fixed it? I did. It took a year and I had to find the right person in the Florida DMV to work with our office to remove the designation that they originally installed on the title. This moral of the story is nothing is perfect and CarFax does NOT stand behind their guarantee. Remember, a guarantee is only as good as the company that stands behind it. Period.
  • thebeanthebean Parts UnknownPosts: 1,126
    Sounds like you deserve an A+ in customer service if you took the initiative to help this customer.  Good job!!  You are one in a million. 
    2015 Honda Accord EX, 2017 Honda Civic EX-T
  • Carfax offer defaults to "unlimited" reports. However, this is not unlimited VIN it is only unlimited by plate number. Don't be fooled. The offers are 1. (1) report 2. (5) reports 3. unlimited by plate NOT Vin number. You can cancel after receiving 2 reports. So if you want to get two FREE reports, activate the unlimited service but then cancel it after opening only 2 reports.

    Also read other reviews where the reports are not helpful and may not report serious issues with the vehicle you are interested in. In fact, a vehicle I purchased new had 5000 miles at first reported service. However, carfax reported this as 50,000 miles. I ended up purchasing a vehicle that showed a clean report but actually had major damage to the passenger side. Replacing a cracked headlight alone cost me $1000. In addition, carfax does not offer a phone number to call for addressing your customer service issues. GOOD LUCK
  • I liked this used Toyota Sienna XLE so well it had every single feature that you could imagine, moonroof, heated seats, AC and USB chargers leather - not only seats but all interior walls what not -and drove like a brand new one - charmingly well-but priced lower, way lower than market -- I mean about $4k less at 14k rather than 18k. The dealer didn't hide the truth though --Autocheck listed the frame as damaged which he says was done when he took the car to an auction, and it should be cleared in a week or two with some more effort from him to the auction guys, even though its not easy to understand for me, why he didn't do it already in the past 4 months while he had the car, ever since it is with him. Beyond that it's just a story who knows whether the damage was only a side dent as he said or a major one which wasn't reported anywhere including Autocheck..All this was while Carfax reported the title and frame as clean... Right then in front of my eyes - I could have made a blunder if he showed me Carfax rather than Autocheck.. I am thankful that Autocheck does this extra source of auction information, which Carfax doesn't seem to cover - very important because lots of used cars actually go through auction at some point or other.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    edited January 2016
    CARFAX ---- much better than nothing but no guarantee of anything.
  • Vincheck Online asked for my vin number which I typed in, then asked to be paid first via Paypal $12.99 then said
    invalid number......retyped number......still invalid......then they tell me after they got paid they don't check vin on 1980 cars or older cars. They also emailed me a password and that was invaild. They refused to give a refund. So no report and no refund and NO phone number to call. Pure fraud.
  • bmw962bmw962 Posts: 1
    worthless article. doesn't address the title. never states which is best. waste of space
  • ted939tedted939ted Posts: 2
    So, according to all the comments here (and elsewhere online and in person I've heard over the years), Carfax is both the best and the worst, and AutoCheck is both the best and the worst. Very contradictory with so much conviction - and thus the reader has no conclusive evidence on which to choose.

    And, yes, bmw962, you're right - the article never states which is best, thus useless article.
  • kyfdxkyfdx Posts: 131,204
    In my experience, carfax has information in much more detail than autocheck. Names of dealers that serviced and owned vehicles, etc.

    Did you get a good deal? Be sure to come back and share!

    Edmunds Moderator

  • My experiences with Carfax:
    1) When you are asked to pay, and you get the options of: 1 report for $39.99; 5 reports for $59.99; or "Unlimited Reports" for $69.99 - READ CAREFULLY. The fine print for "Unlimited Reports" says "by US License Plate Number". This despicable trick to get extra money is why I hate Carfax now. I paid the extra $10 to get "Unlimited" reports for 60 days, and all I got was a single report by VIN number and then "Unlimited" reports that were useless to me because I didn't have any license plate numbers to use for searching.
    2) I had used Carfax before the incident noted above, and purchased the 5 VIN number reports for $59.99. I used 4 of them on cars I was thinking about buying, and 1 of them on my Dad's 2007 Mini Cooper S just to see what would come up for a car about which I knew the entire repair history. Specifically, my dad's Mini Cooper S, within the first 30,000 miles of its life, had to be repaired twice for carbon-fouled valves. Both times, the repair involved the car being out of action for 1 to 2 weeks while the mechanics removed the engine head, pulled out the valves, and scraped off the carbon. These were serious repairs required when the car was practically brand new. Carfax reported them both as "routine maintenance" or something like that. There was no indication in the Carfax report than any serious problems had occurred with my dad's Mini Cooper.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    I have in my files three examples of cars where one report shows an accident and the other doesn't.

  • berriberri Posts: 10,166
    There can be a lot of snake oil sold in America
  • Personally Autocheck is just a big , huge scam . Is cheaper than Carfax but so inaccurate . Dates don't add up and my car as a frame damage when there's no accident reported and also 25 days later was sold as a certified pre owned vehicle with a 175 point inspection ..... Between reported at auto auction ,auction announced as a fleet/lease , announced with frame damaged ,registration renewal ,vehicle in inventory as cpo and title lien reported are 9 miles difference on odometer reading between all that and less than 60 days between all them . Nothing on their report does make any sense ..... Carfax is WAY more detailed with MUCH more info and after I bought my car and know exactly the history of the car Carfax is WAY more accurate than Autocheck .
  • compracercompracer Posts: 1
    Both companies SUCK! As one reviewer calls them, "Snake Oil"! Neither one is reliable... a good gimmick to make illicit $$ though from consumers!
  • AndreiAndrei Posts: 1
    wow I read the article and every comment ... bottom line it's better to run both most recent reports just before paying for the car BUT still understand that some % of info is missing or delayed (I imagine it to be as high as 40%) because of the way reporting is setup and done ...
  • Don't be afraid to slide under the vehicle and take a look around. It's an old school trick, but it still works. Lol. We also use to take them on a test drive, right to a mechanic to lift it up on a rack. We never ever believed a used car salesman.
  • JoelMcBML1777JoelMcBML1777 Blaine WAPosts: 1
    What about
    I had a person send me this link who is ‘ interested ‘ in buying a vehicle from me .
  • kodiakaakodiakaa Posts: 1
    Do NOT fall for the scam! They advertise a "full report" for $9.99 - but don't provide a full report and charged me $24.99!
  • CheetobumCheetobum Posts: 1
    After reading the comments especially those that are against a certain VIN reporting company as incompetent or disingenuous to out right fraud I find the person is putting all their confidence on this one report. The buyer should also take the vehicle to their mechanic to be inspected. The article even says not all problems or accidents will be revealed by a report if it was not reported to them. A report is a good tool to use with your mechanic to determine a vehicle's credibility. Being mad at the report is just another way of saying I'm cheap, I'm lazy and have more money than brains. Take some responsibility for your self to protect yourself.
  • Tshane3000Tshane3000 Livonia MIPosts: 1
    What about VinAudit? They don't make a claim about how detailed their reports are. From the disclaimers on their website it looks like they draw only from (I think) the national traffic safety Administration, I'm not sure what the organization is called exactly.

    Does anyone have any experience with this company?
  • DaverceeDavercee Tampa, FloridaPosts: 102
    "Does anyone have any experience with this company?"

    That's what I was about to ask.
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