There are a lot of unknowns when buying a used car, but a vehicle history report can fill in some pieces of the puzzle. Using the car’s vehicle identification number, or VIN, you can find out a lot about a used car before you buy it by running a vehicle history report. These reports often list basic things such as the number of owners in a car’s history and total miles driven, as well as more detailed information like past accidents and prior records of maintenance, damages and repairs.
CarFax is one of the biggest names in vehicle history reports, and according to the company, there are a couple of ways you can get a free CarFax report.
1. Cars.com’s Used Car Listings
Thousands of vehicles on Cars.com include a free CarFax report, like this one. Click the CarFax report link under the vehicle history heading. It includes the same vehicle history information that you’d get if you purchased a report through CarFax’s website. If the dealership selling the car doesn’t list a free report, ask for one.
2. Private Party Purchase
If used-car shopping via a private sale, ask the car owner to provide you with a CarFax report so you can make an informed decision using as much information on the history of the vehicle as possible.
3. Other Options
CarFax isn’t the only provider of vehicle history reports. The National Insurance Crime Bureau provides a free service called VINCheck that allows consumers to check a vehicle identification number to see if an insurance company has reported the car as a total loss or stolen. This service provides less detail than a CarFax report, however.
Alternatively, the site VinCheck.info also offers free vehicle history reports. It provides info like vehicle theft reports as well as mileage numbers and how many owners the car has had, but doesn’t offer the level of detail that a CarFax report does in terms of accident and maintenance histories.
More From Cars.com:
Cars.com’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with Cars.com’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of Cars.com’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.