When you’re on the market for a vehicle, it’s always a good idea to get your hands on its CARFAX report. It will present you with relevant and useful information about the car’s past, which sometimes isn’t immediately visible on the surface. It can include things such as theft, flood, frame damage, several title issues, maintenance records, etc.
In some cases, you can receive the CARFAX report directly from the dealership. At other times, especially if the car is from a private party, you can find it online. Do, however, keep in mind that this information comes at a cost and you can subscribe to different levels of access to the report.
The Reliability of the CARFAX Report
Also, you need to keep in mind that the information found here is not always 100% reliable. Between the insurance company, DMV, and police reports, some of the information may get lost or distorted. It means that it can happen to find a vehicle with a clean bill of health, but in reality, the car went through severe damage sometime in the past. Though these events are relatively rare, they do happen from time to time.
Nevertheless, the CARFAX report is a valuable tool to have when making an informed decision on a vehicle you plan to purchase. You should, however, look at it as one part of the information before buying a second-hand car. Also, you should also have a trusted mechanic take a look at the vehicle to give their opinion about its current condition.
When looking over a CARFAX report, look at the following bit of information.
Such a report will give you an entire list of ownership. Not only will this tell you how many previous owners the car had, but also who owned it. You can see if it belonged to individuals or part of a corporate fleet, government, rental, etc. You can see if it was, at one time a taxi, pizza delivery car, and so on.
Every time a car goes through a historical event (sold, repurchased, serviced, etc.), its distance is documented. If the mileage sequence is distorted (it goes up then down then up again), it could mean that the odometer has been tampered with. Likewise, if an owner had it for several years, but the car has only a few hundred miles, it could also mean that the odometer was tampered with, or that it was sitting for a long time.
The Car’s Title
This bit of information will tell you if a bank or lender still own the car. Also, it will tell you if the vehicle has been branded or salvaged. If it has one of these titles, it means that the vehicle has been part of a severe accident at some point and has since been repaired. Do, however, keep in mind that a branded or salvaged car will seldom drive as well, and can even pose a severe risk down the line.
Service records will highlight any potential issues that the vehicle might have that make it not worth your while. It includes things such as faulty electrical systems or not functioning airbags, etc. Keep in mind that not all repairs may appear in the report, however. Pay close attention to the car’s recent activity such as multiple changes in ownership or auction sales. These may indicate serious problems with the car that don’t show in the report.