Understanding Carfax and What is Included in a History Report
Carfax is a commercial service offering vehicle history reports to businesses and consumers. The company serves both the United States and Canada. Carfax was founded in Missouri in 1984, and the company is now headquartered in Virginia. One of the original purposes of the company was combating odometer fraud. The latter part of the company's name came from their signature reports, which were sent quickly via fax machines. However, the most popular way to obtain reports today is over the Internet. To this day, Carfax is still a trusted name among consumers and used auto dealers.
Carfax offers four free services: lemon checks, record checks, problem car checks and recall checks. While the free services can be helpful in gathering only the information indicated in their names, they do not include all of the detailed data provided in a full Carfax report.
The history report is the company's most detailed product. It includes data about previous wrecks and other recorded incidents. With over 34,000 sources, the company has access to data in every American state and 10 Canadian provinces. Police departments, Highway Patrol offices, DMVs, auto shops and several other agencies. Information is connected to a vehicle'd identification number, which is commonly called a VIN. Reports include all or some of the following details:
- History of flood damage.
- Past and present title data.
- Total number of owners.
- Any available odometer readings.
- The emission inspection history.
- All available service records.
- Whether the vehicle was ever labeled a complete loss.
- Whether the vehicle was ever part of a rental car fleet or other fleet service.
- Reports from accidents the vehicle was involved in.
While a Carfax report is a valuable tool for all auto shoppers, it is important to keep the other crucial details of buying a car in mind. Consumers should still take a vehicle for a test drive in the city and on the highway before making a purchase. It is also wise to take a vehicle that is being considered to a trustworthy mechanic for an inspection. Although a Carfax report has details about the car's past history, it may not contain information about its current condition. For example, a car could have a completely clean history, but it could be sitting on the lot due to an engine problem that causes the warning light to come on from time to time. Whether the dealership is unaware of the problem or they choose not to disclose it, potential buyers may not know anything is wrong if it does not come on during a test drive. By having a mechanic inspect the vehicle, it is possible to pinpoint several problems.
When shopping at a used car dealership, it never hurts to ask if the company has recently received a Carfax report for the vehicle. In some cases, they may provide it, but do not count on receiving one for free. However if you cannot obtain one from the dealer or you are buying a car from a private party, getting a Carfax report in relatively inexpensive may be well worth the investment.
-Lucas R. Zeiler