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It’s important to know the different methods and compare your options to determine the simplest and most cost-efficient solution for you.

About Vehicle History Reports

Although you can pay to obtain a complete vehicle history report, purchasing a free one is usually the choice of most buyers. It, however, only contains general information about the vehicle such as if it has a salvage title, the manufacturer, model, chassis type, engine size, and engine power. Any accident details are usually vague.

When you purchase a full vehicle history report at a price, you receive a more in-depth report regarding the history of the vehicle in terms of accidents and other damage. Generally, it costs between $10 to $40 to obtain.

This particular history report includes information such as the following:

  • Periodic odometer readings
  • Ownership history
  • Clean title/ownership verification
  • Maintenance records
  • Accident and flood repair records
  • History of rental or lease

Keep in mind, just because you purchase a full history report doesn’t mean you can obtain all this information about any vehicle. Sometimes, it just isn’t available.

What You Need to Get an Automobile History Report

About the VIN Number

Generally, you’re going to need either the plate information or the vehicle information number (VIN).

It’s more accurate to use the VIN since the plate number can change throughout the years. The VIN is unique to your vehicle. Basically, it’s your car’s social security number or fingerprint since no two cars on the road at the same time have the same VIN number.

Your VIN number is a 17-digit code, unless you have a vehicle made between 1954 and 1981. During these years, automobiles did have a code, but no governing body enforced any standards for how many letters or numbers the code had to have.

When you look at the numbers, the first three digits represent the country where the manufacturer of the vehicle was. For instance, a “J” identifies a vehicle that comes from Japan while a 1, 4, or 5 means the car comes from the United States.

The VIN also contains information about the make, model, and body style. The 9th digit represents the year the manufacturer made the vehicle. Each year received a different letter or number. An “S” means the vehicle entered the market in 1995 and a number one means the manufacturer made it in 2001.

When you’re reporting the VIN, keep in mind that it won’t contain the letters I, O, or Q to avoid any confusion since these letters could resemble numbers.

Finding the VIN Number

If you want to find the VIN, you can find it on several documents and on your vehicle. For instance, you may find it inside your vehicle on the interior dashboard on the driver’s side, on the hood in front of your engine, or in between your front carb and windshield washer unit.

You can also find the VIN on the title, registration, insurance documents, owner’s manual, or body shop repair records.

Partial or Full Vehicle History Report on CARFAX.com

carfax logo

Image from Carfax

Visiting CARFAX.com is probably the most well-known and easiest solution. The website is free to use, and you may obtain a vehicle history report on any vehicle.

Once you get to their homepage, you choose to the icon on the right that says, “Get CARFAX Reports.” On the next page, you’ll choose between entering the vehicles VIN or searching by the license plate number and state where the vehicle is.

Generally, if you’re purchasing a vehicle, the owner or dealership will give you the VIN number, and you can evaluate the report to decide if you want the vehicle or not.

Keep in mind, the report shows if the vehicle had any reported accidents and will inform you if the vehicle ever received an “R” title, meaning the insurance company deemed it as beyond repair, and the state then gave it a salvage title.

CARFAX offers a full vehicle history report. It costs $39.99 to purchase one report, but of all the places where you have access to vehicle reports, it’s one of the more comprehensive and reliable sites. If you’re car shopping and have more than one car or truck to evaluate, you may want to purchase the reports in groups.

They charge $59.99 for three and $99.99 for six. They allow you to pay in one of three convenient ways: PayPal, Amazon Pay, or via credit card.

Comprehensive Reports Available on VehicleHistory.com

vehicle history logo

Image from Vehicle History

At VehicleHistory.com, you can obtain a complete vehicle report using the VIN number of the car. The site claims it’s completely free, and the report is complete. Even U.S. News states the site gives you in-depth facts without charging you a fee.

The report consists of information related to the vehicle ownership records as well as government and state records. You have access to public and historical reports.

The site doesn’t just offer you a vehicle history report. If you search on the site, you can find information about various makes and models of cars, trucks, SUVs, and vans ranging from luxury to sedan and both new and used.

Some examples of easy-to-find vehicles include:

  • Lexus ES
  • Nissan Frontier
  • Toyota Camry
  • Ford Fusion
  • Hyundai Elantra
  • Ford Edge

The review provides you with information regarding all of the details about the make and model of the car or truck. The information also contains the pros and cons of the vehicle and features a review from an expert.

Dealership Offers Vehicle History Reports

car dealership

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Unfortunately, you may have to pay a bit more to obtain a vehicle history report but only cause you’re paying the price a dealership charges for the vehicle in the end. Some dealerships utilize CARFAX and provide you with a report or obtain a report through other agencies.

If you want to determine if a dealership supplies you with a history report, you should contact different dealerships and ask what they provide you in terms of an automobile’s past. When you go to a dealership, and they hand you an outdated vehicle history or refuse to give you one at all, you may want to go to another dealership.

Department of Motor Vehicles from Your State

The Department of Motor Vehicles doesn’t just provide you with your driver’s license and other necessities you need on the road. If you go to your state’s DMV website, you can search the VIN of the vehicle.

AutoCheck.com Complete Vehicle History Report

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Image from AutoCheck

You can go to AutoCheck.com and obtain a complete history report of a vehicle by searching the VIN or plate number.

They even offer an option where you can get several reports at one time. You must pay to access the report, and it’s $24.99 for one report. On the other hand, they have an option where you can view up to 25 reports over the course of 21 days for $49.99. This option is ideal for people who are going to look at numerous cars.

The site allows you to view a sample report, so you know what to expect when you choose their service. You can expect to find information about any major accidents the vehicle was in as well as if it had any flood damage. The report also shows if it has a title that reduces its value such as a lemon, salvage, or theft title.

National Insurance Crime Bureau Report

While you can’t get access to a complete vehicle history report on this site, you may find information about the title such as if it is a salvage. The site helps detect insurance fraud as well as other crimes against vehicles. Just visit www.nicb.org to conduct a search.

The company does provide free checks. You do need the VIN number in order to access them though. Over the course of a 24-hour period, you may only perform up to five checks using the same IP address.

National Motor Vehicle Title Information System

By going to vehiclehistory.gov, you can search a database of information about any VIN number you have. The report you pull up shows information about anything in regards to the title of the car. For example, you can find if a car has a salvage title.

Since this particular site is through the government, you know the information you receive is accurate.

A vehicle history report may save you from purchasing a vehicle that had serious damage or even had a lien against it. Reviewing a report may save you the hassle of buying a stolen vehicle as well. If you want to obtain a report, you have several options, although not every one of them is the same.

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