Find out what’s in a CARFAX Report and how it can help you make an informed decision when buying a used vehicle. Get the facts and make the smart choice
Used car managers can be a sleazy bunch, trust me I used to be one! When you meet one of these managers on a used car lot beware. They have an arsenal of selling tools that you don’t even know exist. There are however, easy to remember tips that you can use to protect yourself while shopping for a used car. Today we’re discussing the CARFAX report.
When it comes to buying a used car, one of the most important things you need to do is to get a CARFAX report. CARFAX is a well-known vehicle history report provider that helps you make an informed decision before buying a used car. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explain everything you need to know about CARFAX reports and how to use them to your advantage.
What is a CARFAX report?
A CARFAX report is a detailed summary of a vehicle’s history that includes information about the car’s previous owners, accident history, service records, title information, and more. The report is compiled using data from various sources, including state DMVs, insurance companies, and repair shops. By reviewing a CARFAX report, you can get a better understanding of a car’s condition and make a more informed decision before buying.
Why should you get a CARFAX report?
Getting a CARFAX report is important because it can help you avoid buying a car with hidden problems. A CARFAX report can reveal whether a car has been in an accident, has a salvage title, or has had major repairs. By reviewing the report, you can also get an idea of how well the car has been maintained and whether it has a clean title. In short, a CARFAX report gives you a complete picture of a car’s history, allowing you to make a more informed decision before buying.
How to get a CARFAX report?
Getting a CARFAX report is easy. You can visit the CARFAX website and enter the vehicle’s VIN (vehicle identification number). The VIN is a unique 17-digit code that identifies a specific vehicle. Once you enter the VIN, CARFAX will generate a report that includes all available information about the car’s history. You can also ask the dealer or seller to provide you with a CARFAX report. Most reputable dealers will provide a CARFAX report for free or for a nominal fee.
What information does a CARFAX report contain?
A CARFAX report contains a wealth of information about a vehicle’s history. Here are some of the most important pieces of information you can find in a CARFAX report:
- Accident history: CARFAX reports contain information about accidents and other damage reported to the vehicle. This includes information about the severity of the damage and whether the car was considered a total loss.
- Title information: CARFAX reports also include information about the car’s title history. This can help you identify if the car has a salvage or rebuilt title.
- Service records: CARFAX reports can provide information about the car’s maintenance history, including oil changes, brake jobs, and other repairs.
- Odometer readings: CARFAX reports can help you verify the accuracy of a car’s odometer reading. This can help you avoid buying a car with a rolled-back odometer.
- Ownership history: CARFAX reports can provide information about the number of previous owners and how long each owner held the car.
How to read a CARFAX report?
Reading a CARFAX report can be a bit overwhelming, but it’s not as difficult as it seems. Here are some tips on how to read a CARFAX report:
- Start with the summary: The summary section of the report provides a quick overview of the car’s history. This includes information about accidents, title history, and ownership.
- Look for red flags: Pay attention to any red flags in the report, such as a salvage title or a high number of accidents.
- Review the details: Take a closer look at the details section of the report, which includes information about service records and odometer readings. This section can help you get a better understanding of the car’s overall condition.
- Check the VIN: Verify that the VIN on the report matches the VIN on the car. This can help you avoid buying a car with a cloned or altered VIN.
- Get a second opinion: If you’re unsure about any aspect of the report, don’t hesitate to get a second opinion from a trusted mechanic or a professional car inspector.
How to use a CARFAX report to negotiate the price?
Once you have a CARFAX report, you can use it to negotiate the price of the car. Here are some tips on how to use a CARFAX report to your advantage:
- Identify any red flags: If the CARFAX report shows that the car has a salvage title or a history of accidents, you can use this information to negotiate a lower price.
- Point out any maintenance issues: If the CARFAX report shows that the car has had a lot of repairs or has not been well-maintained, you can use this information to negotiate a lower price.
- Use the car’s history to your advantage: If the CARFAX report shows that the car has been well-maintained and has a clean title, you can use this information to negotiate a higher price.
- Don’t be afraid to walk away: If the seller is not willing to negotiate a fair price based on the CARFAX report, don’t be afraid to walk away. There are plenty of other used cars on the market.
First is a title check
The title of a vehicle should tell you if the car is a registered lemon, has been salvaged, was flooded or completely rebuilt. I have known managers who keep two sets of titles, the old title, and the new title. The old title has the vehicles old history and doesn’t disclose anything. The new title would indeed show the status as being a “salvaged” vehicle, but they tend to forget to show you the new title. A CARFAX report will give you the status of the title regardless of what the actual title says.
Second is an odometer check
The most common need for this is a rolled back odometer. I have seen 2 vehicles with a rolled back odometer. One I could instantly tell something wasn’t right, but the other would have fooled me. It was a 5 year old car that was registered in Montana. The odometer said 68,000 miles which is reasonable for a car 5 years old. When I pulled the CARFAX as I always did it showed that the vehicle had a smog check done about 300 miles away and the vehicle had 137,000 miles at the time! I asked the customer about the discrepancy and he walked out immediately! Without the CARFAX I would have been stuck with a vehicle with a rolled back odometer.
Third is a what CARFAX calls the “Problem Check”
The problem check is a little vague, but gives some great information. It will tell you if the vehicle has been in a major accident (even if it wasn’t salvaged), was sold at a salvage auction (even if it wasn’t salvaged), has been involved in a fire (never buy a car involved in a fire), or if it was stolen. If a vehicle has been in a major accident, I would avoid it completely. Vehicles involved in accidents tend to have more problems throughout the years, and won’t be worth the money you’ll save.
Lastly is the registration check
Most of this information is available at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV, or whatever your state calls it), but CARFAX organizes the information for you to see and understand. The registration check will tell you how the vehicle has been registered in the past. Different types of registrations are handled differently by the DMV. This report will tell you if the vehicle was used as a rental, police car (even for undercover operations), taxi, fleet, or even if it was leased (and to whom it was leased). This information will help you better understand the history of the vehicle and how it was cared for. Fleet cars are taken care of extremely well, and I’ll tell you why in a later article.
CARFAX reports usually cost about $25 and are worth every penny. Many dealerships have a contract with CARFAX and can pull a this report at no cost to you. I pulled a CARFAX on every vehicle I sold and kept them in a binder to show customers. My cost was less than $10 for each report. If you are progressing through the sales process, and the manager can see you’re serious he won’t have a problem pulling a CARFAX for you.
In conclusion, getting a CARFAX report is an essential step in the used car buying process. By reviewing a CARFAX report, you can get a complete picture of a car’s history, including its accident history, title information, service records, odometer readings, and more. This information can help you make an informed decision before buying a used car, and can also help you negotiate a fair price. Don’t buy a used car without first getting a CARFAX report. It’s a small investment that can save you a lot of money and headaches down the road.
As you can see, for $25 a CARFAX report can provide you with peace of mind, but also can potentially save you from a major used car buying problem!