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How a CARFAX Vehicle History Report Works

By: StaffPublished September 24, 2021

CARFAX makes it easy to order a vehicle history reports. Other than payment information, the only thing you need is a vehicle’s VIN, or Vehicle Identification Number. Find a car’s 17-character VIN by looking from the outside for a label on the driver’s side dashboard. The label is sometimes in the driver’s side door instead, near the latch. If you’re searching for cars online, the VIN is often listed on the website. Go to carfax.com, enter your payment information and the VIN, and you will have immediate access to the complete CARFAX vehicle history report.

CARFAX history reports draw from over 34,000 sources, including US and Canadian motor vehicle agencies, car auctions, repair facilities, insurance companies, car dealerships and law enforcement agencies. Vehicle history reports contain plenty of useful information about used cars. Each CARFAX report checks for:

  • Lemons
  • Multiple owners
  • Major accidents
  • Recall information
  • Airbag deployment
  • Length of ownership
  • Warranty information
  • Last reported mileage
  • Flood, frame, or hail damage
  • Estimated miles driven per year
  • Lease, personal, taxi or police use
  • Salvaged, junked, rebuilt or total loss
  • Mileage rollbacks, rollovers, inaccuracies
  • Service, inspection, and registration history

CARFAX organizes this information in an easy-to-read layout. 

CARFAX reports may contain inaccuracies. Consumer Reports found that most erroneous reports involved seriously damaged vehicles that hadn’t been declared a total loss, but they still consider the reports useful for buying used cars. CARFAX actually guarantees that they will buy your used car if you bought it based on an erroneous report. This guarantee is valid:

  • For one year after the report was issued
  • If you registered the vehicle within 90 days
  • If you can prove the vehicle had a branded title
  • State motor-vehicle agencies have the branding information on file

The guarantee does not include “recovered stolen” or “theft” branded vehicles or vehicles with titles branded less than 60 days before the history report. Buying a used car involves many personal and financial choices and plenty of research. A CARFAX vehicle history report can help you make a more informed decision.

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